What is Casual Learning exactly? First of all, Casual Learning means learning in situations of everyday routines like walking on the street, waiting for the bus, or going to a pub. So, everyone can learn casually. First of all, it describes a human process and, secondly, innovative techniques to take advantage of this process by placing short and eye-catching information at these everyday places. The Casual Learning approach uses advertising and marketing experiences but adapts them for education on development issues. Casual Learning moves information towards the target group instead of forcing the target group to head out for information by themselves. Thus, information on global development topics can be integrated within the everyday living environments of Young Modern Performers at places where it surprises.


on the streets of pedestrian areas

 © axway - Fotolia.com


using web 2.0 like You Tube, flash mobs, and other multi media. © SXC / Jakub Krechowicz


In this way Casual Learning can be a very useful tool for NGOs to reach new audiences. In our case we use it to address the group of YMPs but it can be adapted to any new audience you aim to reach as an NGO.




But where to find them? A good start are places of leisure time - health and sports to start with.
For example it can be

- Malls

- Exclusive shops

- Spas and wellness centers

- Gyms

- Bars

- Discotheques

- Restaurants


© orelphoto - Fotolia  © SXC - Photo byCarol O'Driscoll  © SXC - Photo by Caroline Hoos


- Airports

- Plaines

- Business hotels

- First class areas of high-speed trains

- Technical universities


© Claudio Sepulveda Geoffroy    


Another good option is to target YMPs at working places such as

- Engineers’ offices

- City council administration

- Multinational companies

- Parking places in front of such offices


© SXC - Photo by Thoursie  © mconnors


In short: we need to go to places that these YMPs normally go to every day. Of course, these can be very different places from where we as NGOs normally do education and awareness raising, but it is worth the effort as we can thereby put information into the everyday life environment of YMPs and thus really contribute to an enhanced spreading of development topics.



Using different materials:

However, if we go to these places we cannot just do awareness raising in the way we normally do at our events. This goes, first of all, for the materials that we use: for example, nobody wants to read a booklet when having a drink in a bar with friends. What we need is something that people can make use of in that very situation. Like, for example, a napkin that will be at the table and that people having a drink will look at, touch, and use anyway. So why not print on a napkin or a beer mat what we want them to know about development?

In this manner there are many other options on what can be useful for people like, for example: train ticket envelopes, rain caps on a rainy days, or stickers for a Christmas present.

All of these materials can be carrying our development messages. We just do not use them very often yet. If you look around your city, you will find many different objects that could be carrying development ideas in an innovative way. There are no limits to your creativity …!


Using different messages:

Casual Learning does not only mean to use different materials and objects from the ordinary. This is because people at everyday places have naturally less time that they are willing to spend on educational content. We can stimulate their interest but we should not try to overwhelm them with a flood of information. Therefore our educational information needs to be short and easy to understand.



A good advice is the 10-second rule: © SXC - Photo by Jean Scheijen


the general idea and main idea of our message needs to be understood in just 10 seconds time. 10 seconds to make clear what development problem we are talking about and what should be done about it. The idea of Casual Learning is that information on development must reach the YMP on sight.

Another reason for short messages is simply the amount of space that you have.


 Take the example of a napkin with a 8 x 16 cm size. This means that we have 4-5 sentences that we can put on the napkin, so we need to really think about how to present the core aspects of a topic with just a few images and words. Therefore, we think of Casual Learning as a sort of good advertisement which is really adapted to the situation. But in this case it is not an advertisement for some consumable but for a development topic. Topics cannot be provided in complete depth with all details included that are related. Casual Learning is designed to just get topics into the focus of the target group and motivate them to head out for further information by themselves. It can give incentives for self-guided research on the topic, for example, through the internet.

This is especially suitable for YMPs who are more likely to conduct their own research than to come to a two-hour education event on development topics that they have never heard about before. However, it is very important to emphasize that Casual Learning is not “education light”. It does not imply transmitting only one side of the story. It also does not mean letting go of complex topics in general but it poses the challenge of reducing them without missing the most important aspects. Casual Learning should give accurate information and get the viewer curious on the topic. A good approach to overcome these limitations of Casual Learning is to directly link it on your item with some hint to deeper knowledge that you provide at another place. For example, this can be some background information that you provide on Facebook or your organizations' homepage. For example, the napkin can have a Facebook link or a link to your homepage. YMPs are also called the “always online generation”. If you manage to light their fire, they will want to get more information with the link that you gave.


Saving money:

© SXC - Photo by Marcelo MouraThat being said, finally some words on money. Casual Learning can sometimes be pricey. Casual Learning may not always be easy to develop because it takes time to think about the right item and the right message. But in terms of actual money being spent it does not have to be very expensive at all. All the actions that we carried out as a project team were limited to 1000 Euro in production including all costs of design, materials and distribution. So it can be a cheap and yet effective way of reaching out to YMPs.