Education is the systematic process of enabling individuals to acquire knowledge, skills, talents, attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors, through learning experiences. Education may be formal or informal. Education includes childhood, kindergarten up to college and university. Education encourages creativity, development of personal values and social awareness. Education includes instruction, teaching, assessment, guided activity, laboratory work, field work, supervised research and supervised study. There are many types of education such as traditional schooling; professional schooling; home schooling; and independent schooling.
The process of informal education is a social learning process. It is the sum of all the stages of a learning process (from early childhood right up to college and university) delivered by people who come from various backgrounds and interact with people from differing social milieus. Informal education is usually taught in classrooms. However, it can also take place online. The online, informal education includes video based lectures, audio lectures and web-based training. In informal education, the learners are encouraged to participate in the class discussions and to use tools and facilities provided.
There is a difference between informal and formal education. The informal learning process develops leadership skills and self-pride, while formal education trains learners to become competent adults. Formal education usually builds on knowledge that has been acquired in primary and secondary school, further development of which takes place at tertiary level through an institution of higher learning.
The benefits of informal education can be seen in its application in the global context. Informal learning process have been applied successfully in developing countries to produce successful leaders, inventors, and entrepreneurs. Some of the social media applications like Facebook were started as a part of informal education for school children in Brazil, India, Mexico and Indonesia. These communities created their own content through collaborative effort and then posted it on the social media websites. This led to the generation of professionals with such a strong social media presence.
The benefit of informal learning can also be seen in the classroom where a greater participation of students from different backgrounds and with different expectations are possible. Through this process, students become more engaged and they are given more control over their time. An active student involvement in group projects can boost their confidence and creativity. This further boosts their motivation to learn. Teachers are able to get valuable feedback from their students during the interactive process and use this information to enhance the content and lesson objectives.
Classroom based learning is also benefiting from the informal methods of teaching. The collaborative teaching method encourages students to participate actively in the lessons and it also leads them to utilize technology in their everyday learning. It enables them to create meaningful discussions and learn from them in a fun and convenient environment.
Education programs have started realizing the benefits of an informal education system. Such systems do not need to be very structured. Traditional classrooms are slowly being replaced by telephonic teaching, which facilitates communication between teachers and students. Students are also given the freedom to attend a high school or college without having to give up their job or miss out on their other activities.
With these developments, education has started moving towards the informal learning. It has been proven that this mode of education is more effective and efficient compared to the structured education. It provides students with the necessary flexibility in engaging in long-term and challenging educational activities. It helps to nurture leadership qualities among students. Those who have opted for such education have proved themselves competent in handling even the most difficult situations. Thus, the benefits of such modes of education are immense and schools, organizations, colleges and universities have begun to take full advantage of them.