MyLK project is destined to create a digital platform to automatically trace digital learning. In order to choose which “type of learning” the platform would trace, a typology has to be established in the first place. However, there are alerady various typologies and a confusion between them is prevailing.

Indeed, some people use the “formal/ informal/non-formal learning” typology, other use the “formal/informal/non-formal education” one and certain use the “official/non official” one.

What is the difference between learning and education?

Formal learning is always organised and structured, and has learning objectives. From the learner’s standpoint, it is always intentional: i.e. the learner’s explicit objective is to gain knowledge, skills and/or competences. Typical examples are learning that takes place within the initial education and training system or workplace training arranged by the employer. One can also speak about formal education and/or training or, more accurately speaking, education and/or training in a formal setting. This definition is rather consensual.

Informal learning is never organised, has no set of objectives in terms of learning outcomes and is never intentional from the learner’s standpoint. Often it is referred to as learning by experience or just as experience. The idea is that the simple fact of existing constantly exposes the individual to learning situations, at work, at home or during leisure time for instance. This definition, with a few exceptions also meets with a fair degree of consensus.

Mid-way between the first two, non-formal learning is the concept on which there is the least consensus, which is not to say that there is consensus on the other two, simply that the wide variety of approaches in this case makes consensus even more difficult. Nevertheless, for the majority of authors, it seems clear that non-formal learning is rather organised and can have learning objectives.

Formal education: the hierarchically structured, chronologically graded ‘education system’, running from primary school through the university and including, in addition to general academic studies, a variety of specialised programmes and institutions for full-time technical and professional training.

Informal education: the truly lifelong process whereby every individual acquires attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment – from family and neighbours, from work and play, from the market place, the library and the mass media.

Non-formal education: any organised educational activity outside the established formal system – whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity – that is intended to serve identifiable learning clienteles and learning objectives.

The distinction made is largely administrative. Formal education is linked with schools and training institutions; non-formal with community groups and other organizations; and informal covers what is left, e.g. interactions with friends, family and work colleagues.

The diagram below presents a fundamental difference between the two approaches: one depends on the posture and the intention of the learner (the learning definition) and the other depends on the source of the education and its recognition.

learing vs education

What are the implications for MyLK Dashboard?

Of course, this typology is interesting to definite what type of “learning episodes” the platform will trace, and to be clear about the terms used.
However, this subtle definitions’ nuances can have an implication on how we decide to trace the learning, because every typology can be helpful and relevant and maybe we have to choose a mix of both.

Focus on “education definition”
This typology is probably the most obviously helpful, but not necessarily the most actual helpful. Indeed, we can decide to trace learning episodes according to a norm that would be delivered to some non-official training organisms, or to some individual learners. In this case, the “education typology” would be the most relevant.

Focus on “learning definition”
However, we can also decide that a learners position in the learning process has an implication to their training. Indeed, we can imagine that an individual wants develop his/herskills on Pack Office and he/she wants it to appear in his/her “digital resume from the platform”.  We can imagine that he/she has to log on to his/her own platform account, and when he’s she’s logged on, the platform traces his/her Internet navigation, particularly his training contents. But after having worked on Pack Office, he/she wants to see a video on animals anatomy and he/she doesn’t want the platform to trace it. He just has to “log off” his platform. In this case, the learner’s intention is fundamental so the “learning definition” would be relevant.

A mix of the both ?
Finally, maybe we would have to arbitrate in favour of a mix of the both typologies to define what types of learning the platform would trace, a platform where both learner’s posture and learning source could be significant.


Theses definitions question a larger definition: what is a learning content? Can we speak about education or training if the learner has no intention to educate himself? It leads to a deep and endless debate. Furthermore, can we trace any “learning episode” without the consent ahead of time.
We will have to debate theses subjects. Meanwhile, we can establish a typology of learning episodes et decide which one the platform would have to trace, and which one it could trace.

The following table suggest a classification of “learning episodes” that we could use to identificate and define which “learning episode type” the platform would trace. This is a proposition of a “colour code”:

Author: Pauline