Methods of non-formal learning

METHOD  (from the Greek. μέθοδος — way, the path of study)

*in a broad sense:

— a way of understanding the phenomena of nature and social life for the construction and justification of knowledge.

*in a narrow sense:

— a way to achieve any goal, solve a specific problem;

the sequence of steps, actions to be taken to solve a certain problem or to achieve a particular goal;

rule a certain way, method, algorithm for solving the problem theoretical, practical, educational, managerial, worldly nature.

Choosing forms of group work for your event, we are guided by the goals that you want to achieve and consider how useful will this work for specific groups and specific topics.

But in the course of events often need to quickly make the change. It may depend:

and from the atmosphere in the group (relevant if the game is at the moment? is the team ready for this exercise? enough participants were acquainted with each other? how the group came together?);

– and from the composition of the group (age difference, gender differences, group size, education of the participants);

– time constraints (what period of time are required to play? whether there is a right time frame?)

The most popular methods of non-formal training

Icebreakers (Ice-breaker): short active jobs with a duration of +/- 5 minutes, allowing you to cheer up, to relieve stress, increase concentration, and easy, simple to implement, usually do not require special training and materials; can be loud and chaotic. Important: must not be repeated within the same event.

Team games (Team building): tasks, which help to create a group of team – a cohesive group with common goals, values and history; create a sense of cohesion, clarify roles, help to understand the impact of human behavior on the team; give direct experience of interaction, develop trust, they allow physical contact. Important: take into account the willingness,  active group and depending on this model the complexity of the task to avoid psychological shock. It is important that the job was doable.

Game: a different kind of challenge with a competitive element; allow to pay attention to any subject/issue, to get to know each other, develop cooperation; usually take a little time, easily adapt to the needs of high-level one. Important: to support the implementation of the rules and ensure the safety of the game.  

Role-playing: playing multiple members of a given scenario related to a topic of study; expand attitudes, changing the attitude to the subject, clearly show the consequences of their behavior in given situations; simulate reality in a safe environment. Important: the behavior of the participants can be spontaneous, not rigid rules, but the participants must clearly understand their roles.  

Simulation: formulation of real-life situations; demonstrates practical decisions in situations close to real life; the participants act and react to what is happening on their own, without defined roles; job have a high degree of realism and give immediate feedback; require careful preparation and time.Important: to conduct the debriefing after the simulation.

A case analysis: the search for solutions to situations based on the story of life (with details to understand the problem analysis and finding solutions); develop critical thinking, analytical skills, learn to distinguish between facts and assumptions; takes a lot of time, requires context, consider the case of real life and the subject of study.

Demonstration: a technique that demonstrates how to do something or use; provides a clear example of work. Important: should be short; it should be clearly visible, audible, understandable (the language of demonstration).

Modeling: learning new behaviors by imitating a model or ideal. Includes: monitoring the behavior of the model, practice, role-playing, feedback through a discussion of the simulation used to teach new behavior, method, technique, intercultural learning. Important: an atmosphere of trust.

Brainstorm: the decision of a problem situation by generating ideas; all ideas are recorded without analysis within 5-15 minutes, and only then should the analysis and screening of ideas. Develops creative thinking, helps to find an unusual solution that supports the activity. It is important requires time and skills to debate; the process requires the participants ‘ trust in each other.

When choosing a game/task you need to consider:

– the situational appropriateness of a game/task and relevance of training;

– the commitment of the group to action games, the level of cohesion of the group;

– age difference, gender and social differences;

– group size;

– the possibility of improvisation;

is a GOAL you want to achieve the game (an important process or the result? which is what?);

+ it is important to provide security (psychological and physical) of the game/job.

During the training/meeting is first selected a soft, simple shapes work. It will give participants the opportunity to enter into action. The coach should create conditions under which the man himself will begin to speak and act. Participants should be given TIME AND SPACE. Then, incrementally, the tasks become more complicated and aggravated in accordance with the theme.

NB! Job…


*with tactile contacts

*image – possibly – humiliating role

needs to be thought out

! valid for the particular group, the data of individual participants?

! appropriate whether they are at the moment whether the group/participants to perceive these actions?

+ the game must first offer the group – whether she wants to experience the action with such features?

The basic principle of informal learning – voluntary participation (based on intrinsic motivation).

NB! It is important to give the person the right choice:

– whether a person wants to participate in the action?

– agree to the conditions of the job?

– agree whether the presence of any person while performing the task?

It is important to ask the opinion of a man – HE takes a decision and responsibility that the course of action will depend on him.

Everyone has the right to refuse!

If someone conditions is uncomfortable and the person refuses to participate in the action, he can offer the ROLE of an OBSERVER.

This role will allow the person not to engage in active, but not for his actions, but to be with the group, to be part of the overall process. In addition, during the reflective discussion, the observer will give feedback.

Another significant setting that helps to lay down an atmosphere of trust in the group: everyone has the right to be wrong.

The truism “do not mistake the one who does nothing” in the process of learning through experience takes on new meaning. Trying on new situations, actions, and concepts in the game (simulating a life situation), we can error to gain invaluable experience in the least painful way possible. That is why informal learning is so necessary reflexive exercise! During the debriefing, each participant analyzes the course of events, situations, feelings, motives, behavior and mistakes. Analyzes and obtains information from colleagues in the group and draws conclusions. Not so important how well you acted, but it’s very important how you understand your experience and what was the result.

NB! During the reflective exercise must be especially careful to ensure that the conversation does not become personal. A hard and fast rule: don’T talk about the person, NOT the evaluated person! Talking about their feelings, assess the situation, the action.

Author: Diana Urban