Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

How to break barriers between formal and informal learning in education?


Recent blog post by Neelie Kroes featured Young Advisers ideas on digital education. One of those is to recognise the importance of non-formal education "through online media as well as peer-learning environments such as co-working spaces et al (not with expensive certificates though)". 

Informal digital learning methods include simulation & games, social networking sites, mobile applications, online discussion groups and other peer-learning environments, etc.   

How can we make best of both formal and informal peer- and ecosystem-learning in order to teach digital skills?

As put by the Young Advisers document, the effectiveness of informal learning "has already been demonstrated in many fields such as applied sciences, startups science and open source projects as well in many NGOs, NPOs, the arts and alike."

Is it possible to have best of both systems also in schools? How can we redesign education to embedd informal learning methods? Would you like to share any recent initiatives in this field?

This week's conversation conjoins with an online webinar on Future of Education & Learning with Prof. Peter Scott from Knowledge Media Institute. More information on the Futurium event page.



69 users have voted.


Simon Fenton-jones's picture

Hi david, kat,

Can we start here as it's the logical spot. (The ECAS has mangled my name but let's not go there) This version of digital-agenda is good enough to become professional. And we'll need to start an informal learning. So as i've suggested over on the Policy making 2.0 group (which i can't point to as it's locked) . Could you put a link to this page on this page in the para. "How this site will evolve".

Either we start using this domain as an informal learning spot or we're going to be talking about making policy for new skills forever. So we'll need a forum which looks at developing the back end, and extending it, while all the talkers, talk.

I don't know where this site aligns with the "EC's central digital communication's team but we obviously have the makings of a decent digital education, if we can get some collaboration happening across the europa domain, and beyond.

65 users have voted.
David Ringrose's picture


We are soon to revise the page,, so we can better reflect the possibilities for greater involvement by those who, like you are interested in letting us know where we can improve. Futurium is one way we have done this, and the platform you are currently using is another one.

We are in constant touch with the team in the Communications DG, DG who are behind the site - Evan Woods used to be in DG INFSO, the predecessor of DG CONNECT.

Any more questions about the site, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Head of Communication Unit, DG CONNECT

0 users have voted.
Simon Fenton-jones's picture

Whew! I don't envy you your job David.Talk about herding cats.
You really do have a great opportunity here.

I keep on looking at and comparing it to as an example of the number of "my groups", whose (federated) services you must be trying to bring together, in some spot in the ec.Europa domain. Arghh!

Kat might say we need some more research. I'd say we just need some development now, if we could just get a little understanding between the network guys and your matildas. I think we're all starting to work from the same service manual. (although getting engineers to talk above the radar is like extracting teeth)

Could you ask Matildas to look at this approach. Not the software so much as the layout. (being able to see who's online, and number of people reading in a room). You can imagine it's not that much of a jump to starting a webinar in a room. I'll leave it at that for now. Don't want to disrupt this thread.

0 users have voted.
Katarzyna Szkuta's picture

Simon, thanks a lot for your comment.

This thread is actually focused on digital education and learning methods. In this case particularly about inspiring examples of the use of informal education in mainstream education.

As far as the design of the Digital Agenda website and the overall engagement process is concerned, I would say that Futurium is the best place to discuss it. Why not putting your comment as a policy idea there? or maybe you would like to contribut to a policy idea we have put up with Alberto Cottica on networked-powered policy making?


66 users have voted.
Simon Fenton-jones's picture

Hi kat

Well, I took this approach because it will give you and the community an idea of how the informal is taking place, in a formal setting. I could point to a few moodles and moocs, as examples of the kind of embrionic "learning ecosystems", which are being experimented with on the web. But most of the informal learning, particularly in gov, is about getting into the peer learning routine, where most of the "ICT skills" are more about co-design of existing media, like this domain.

That's why i led with a suggestion of putting one page where, to a user, it logically belongs. It's of little use to point to the Futurium sub-domain, when logically, we're talking about files which sit within this one. That's one digital skill of which I'm fully aware.

I could go on which lots of other anomalies like why this Event's page isn't a subset of this Groups' page. We are trying to bring together lots of ideas from lots of Communities' conferences, all of which revolve around specific subjects, in remote 'ecosystems' = domains.

So I hope you'll take this as an illustration of how to break the barriers between formal teaching and informal learning. It's up to you and the community now, whether you/we want to talk about it or "just do it". All the best.

I will look at the network-powered policy making. I just hope we've got policy makers who understand network management. (The network management guys just hate politics).

72 users have voted.
Katarzyna Szkuta's picture

Simon, you're right this platform was created as a form of informal and peer-learning environment. as for the design of the DAE website and these subpages, thanks a lot for your thoughts. we're still experimenting so every comment helps.

75 users have voted.
David Ringrose's picture


On the issue of "...why this Event's page isn't a subset of this Groups' page."  the reason is that this is the first use the collaborative feature we built here (Drupal module). There will be further "Communities", where we hope there will be further discussions on specific issues, so the "Community" link wil be a door to teh seciifc discussions - as of now, there is only one.



66 users have voted.
Silverio Carugo's picture

Is it possible to have best of both systems - formal and not-formal - also in schools?

The answer is: YES, definitely !

A good example is provided by DIDASCA - The First Italian Cyber Schools for Lifelong Learning.
DIDASCA has built a bridge between formal and not-formal systems, through the ‘Didasca EduWeb Syndication’.

Didasca offers to schools:
- a digital textbook, for free, titled ‘DIDASpedia’ hosted by this site:
- a MOOC (Mass Open Online Course) dealing with Google Chrome, considered as an ‘universal web browser’ for navigating the Web, hosted by this site:

79 users have voted.
Katarzyna Szkuta's picture

Dear Silverio,


very interesting and goes in line with what we have discussed during a recent webinar on Future of Education & Learning with prof. Peter Scott from Knowledge Media Institute. (Short recap on storify for those who are interested and the presentation is available on Futurium event page.)

Peter's mentioned all possible collaboration environements that we're already can use in education, such as Massive Open Online Courses, Personal Learning Environment, Personal Learning Networks, Open Education Resources, Open Education Practices. The interesting question coming from the webinar was how we recognise those informallly acquired competences at school? and how we build this common learning environment? 
It will be interesting to hear from you Silverio on how you integrate it with the formal education system? 


84 users have voted.
Silverio Carugo's picture


I’ll try to answer your questions, below.

Q: … how we recognise those informally acquired competences at school?
A: To teachers that have attended the ‘PerCorso Google Chrome’ and have passed the Assessment Test, DIDASCA issues a certificate of completion titled: ‘Didasca Certified Google Chrome Expert’

Q: … and how we build this common learning environment?
A: Through a site, like ‘Banda Larga & Menti Acute’

Q: It will be interesting to hear from you Silverio on how you integrate it with the formal education system?
A: We integrate Schools into the ‘Didasca EduWeb Syndication’

73 users have voted.