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6 Tips for Informal Learning

April 01, 2018
Ryan Day

How trustworthy is that online article? Here’s how to identify quality content.

When you need to learn a task quickly, your answer is often a Google search away. This kind of informal learning is something we all do, and it can be effective depending on the scale and importance of your need.

The internet is a treasure trove of free IT resources—but free has its risks. Is the material correct? Is it current?

Bad or misinformation is all over the internet. Here are six tips to ensure you’re investing your time in quality and credible resources.


1. When was it published?

Check the date. Technology changes so often, anything published more than a year or two ago could be wildly outdated.

Just look at blockchain. Cryptocurrency has been around for a decade but only recently have industries, such as health care and banking, started leveraging blockchain to gain greater transparency, improve efficiency and reduce costs. A 2016 blockchain article would look a heck of a lot different than a 2018 blockchain article.

Or think about cybersecurity. The overarching concepts have remained the same for decades, but the emphasis on all IT professionals having some form of security training, and the focus on specializations, are recent concepts adopted out of need.

So whether you’re researching an old or new technology, up-to-date information is crucial to your success.


2. What/who is the source?

Is the website credible? Is the author established in the respective field? There are a lot of great bloggers out there, just make sure the author is an individual who is well-respected in the industry. Do your research to make sure you can trust the source/author of the content.

If you see someone referenced often in blogs or forums, that is a sign they probably know what they are talking about. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Make sure you learning from actual experts—not someone pretending to be one.


3. How often do they publish?

Whether you’re reading a blog or watching a video, typically a trusted source will post frequently. Publishing only once or twice a year is a red flag. A thought-leading business will leverage their subject matter experts to produce value-driving pieces of content on a regular basis. They may only publish special reports annually or biannually, but look for their blogs and resource pages to be filled with frequently-updated content.


4. Does it rank highly by Google?

A good way to ensure quality is a high SEO ranking. Does the content show up on the first page in a Google search? Google’s algorithms do a good job of ranking by quality. Typically, you can trust content that shows up higher in a search.


5. Check the comment section

Looking to continue the conversation? Check the comments on an article or blog. Authors will frequently reply to questions in that space and you may find insightful and engaging anecdotes from readers.


6. Check the social channels

You can learn a lot about an organization by their social channels. Are they highly engaged on Twitter and Facebook? Do they post regularly? Are they followed by industry experts?

Also, if a company or author is promoting articles, blogs and other content through social media, it’s probably up-to-date information.


There is a ton of great informal content out there—you just have to know where to look! And don’t be afraid to branch out to other content formats too. Check for blogs, infographics, e-books, webinars and even podcasts that can reinforce your learning.

Global Knowledge is a formal training provider, but we’ve got your back for a quick fix too. Our informal content is free and should be leveraged when you need it. It’s a good idea to bookmark the following Global Knowledge links, as they’ll be continually updated with new and useful content that are written by our instructors and subject matter experts: