Beyond Formal Education: Non-Formal vs Informal

By: February 23, 2023

Before going into what lies beyond formal education, let’s make it clear that there’s a difference between non-formal and informal education. Non-formal education has structure, meaning that there’s a predetermined curriculum and structured timing. It takes place outside of classrooms and institutions.

Informal education involves real learning, but it happens in an unstructured way, and it comes to the learner from society. Informal education is when a child’s grandfather teaches them how to bait a hook to go fishing, or when a mother teaches her kids how to use oil paints. More recently, it involves browsing the internet and watching YouTube videos.

Neither non-formal nor informal education typically leads to a nationally recognized degree, and clearly there are never any admission requirements.

Non-Formal Learning

The opportunities for non-formal learning are vast. Just a few weeks ago, one of the staffers here at Proffe Invest took a terrific course on fundamental analysis of stocks on Udemy (NASDAQ: UDMY). Now, he’s helping out with analyzing many of the stocks that are being considered for our various portfolios.

Udemy is a terrific way to learn without admission requirements or formal classrooms. (Source:

Udemy is a terrific example of non-formal education. The e-Learning company offers over 200,000 courses. The range of topics is beyond broad. You can learn how to code in nearly any computer language. You can become an expert in pretty much any Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) program, like Excel or Powerpoint. Then there are more esoteric topics, like the course in Data Science, or even a new course in natural speech recognition.

Today, Udemy courses are completed using recorded videos that you watch on their website, but one could imagine a future where Udemy courses are taken on the metaverse. Maybe rather than watching videos, students will sit in a virtual classroom with the Udemy instructor.

Although Udemy is certainly terrific, it has some wonderful alternatives. Our favorite professional networking site, LinkedIn, offers courses through LinkedIn Learning.

One of the more interesting takes on e-learning is MasterClass, which allows subscribers to learn from world renowned experts in their fields. You can learn about architecture from Frank Gehry, leadership from Anna Wintour, or comedy from Steve Martin. What a truly amazing opportunity!

MasterClass allows you to learn from internationally recognized experts. (Source:

Informal Learning

YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google, is an incredible repository of knowledge. You can learn just about anything on YouTube. I personally learned how to replace brake pads and rotors on my car by watching videos on YouTube. Many of my friends who are engineers turn to YouTube to learn about many technical topics.

You can learn about casting aluminum, forging steel, and programming Raspberry Pi computers. There are even professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that post all of their lectures right on YouTube for anyone to watch. That’s a lot less expensive than paying the university’s tuition.

YouTube, the largest video streaming service in the world, is actively making room for the metaverse as part of its Web3 project. The company plans on starting its foray into the metaverse first with gaming, because it already has some infrastructure for AR and virtual reality (VR) products. However, it has not made any concrete plans about how it will tackle the metaverse beyond gaming. The only idea on the topic made public are some concepts about group viewing of videos within the metaverse.

There will be a lot more informal learning in the metaverse outside of YouTube. As mentioned in a previous article on the metaverse, there are numerous museums setting up displays in the metaverse.

For example, Dresden, Germany has recently created a digital twin of its Old Masters Gallery. This twin, of course, can be visited through virtual reality goggles. In the future, it will without a doubt be available to tour in the metaverse.

The real and virtual twin version of the Old Masters Gallery in Dresden, Germany. (source:

The MegaTrend of Post Formal Education in the Metaverse

The wealth and security of nations continues to rely on the ability of its citizens to become educated and stay educated. This requires lifelong learning.

Because most adults don’t have time to sit in formal classrooms, this means non-formal and informal education are the only pathways to lifelong learning. The metaverse only stands to promote this.

You can expect that in the future, as the metaverse takes off, learning and the companies that offer it through these channels will continue to proliferate. That is why we see post-formal education via the metaverse an expanding MegaTrend.

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