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The Basics of Self-Directed Learning for Teachers

Two weeks ago I posted an article here about The Basics of Blended-Learning in which I talked about this relatively new learning concept and I mentioned that more and more learning concepts have emerged due to the growing embrace of technology into every facet of our life. It does become hard to keep track of everything that emerges as a result of this over-digitization of education but at least we should have an idea and a clear picture of those  popular ones . Educational Technology and Mobile Learning is planning to introduce you to some of these learning concepts and guide you towards a better understanding of what they mean and hoping that you will benefit from them in informing your teaching practice. I have already talked about Blended Learning, Flipped Learning, and today I am introducing you to Self-directed learning.

What is self-directed learning all about ?

There are a variety of definitions as to what SDL is all about and going through all of them I found that Knowles has been very articulate in the way he defined SDL.

“In its broadest meaning, ’self-directed learning’ describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with our without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning, choosing and implement appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.” (Knowles, 1975, p. 18)
Elements of Self-directed learning
Self-directed learning is built upon the following elements :

  • Learners take  the initiative to pursue a learning experience and 
  • They take the  responsibility and accountability for completing their learning
  • They have a readability to learn
  • They set their own learning goals
  • They engage in their learning
  • They evaluate their learning 
One of the misconception about self-directed learning is that learners learn in complete isolation from others while in fact the core idea behind SDL is that learning is driven by intrinsic motivational factors  stemming from the learners own desire to learn and drive his/her learning experience beginning with recognizing a need to learn.

Here is a great graphic I came across in this wiki. The graphic sheds more light on the elements of self-directed learning. You can also check this article from  Centre for Teaching Excellence to learn more about SDL

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