As the title suggests I am looking for a term used by a teacher I once had. It describes unintentionally learning something new whilst actually researching or simply learning about something different.

  • 2
    there is an idiom "learning by osmosis" (you can google it, but here is one of many hits languagetutoring.co.uk/learningthroughosmosis.html However the term is most frequently used not so much 'by doing something else" but instead, when exposed to the topic you're learning without necessarily making a concerted effort to learn it.
    – Tom22
    Jul 2, 2017 at 21:41
  • Ancillary learning brings up many results.
    – Davo
    Jul 3, 2017 at 0:07
  • Could the teacher have used the term meta-learning? For example, learning social skills, or learning how to organize a task, while being taught something else?
    – Xanne
    Jul 3, 2017 at 1:02

1 Answer 1


It appears that there are several terms in use for this:

incidental learning, random learning

Source, further reading: EduTech Wiki.

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