What is Self-Directed Learning?
Incorporating self-directed learning is an effective and convenient method that works as a supplement to instructional learning, for developing a well-rounded learning process. This is a form of constructive learning where education does not depend on teachers or instructors. It does not encourage spoon-feeding, rather, it empowers the learners and involves them in their learning process.
Learners drive and direct their learning instead of leaving it in the hands of someone else. It holds the learners responsible for their cognitive development- prompts them to know what they really want to learn and how they want to advance with their learning. With the easy availability of relevant resources, it has become easier to make learning much more fun, interesting, and creative.
“All men who have turned out worth anything have had a chief hand in their own education.”
– Sir Walter Scott
Self-learning aims at involving learners in their learning process. With the advancement in technology and teaching methodologies, self-directed learning has become a handy tool for various educational institutions who aim to enhance the learner’s experience. This method liberates learning from the restricted space of a classroom.
Importance of Self-Learning
Self-learning does not confine itself to chosen subjects or goals or academic. It provides flexibility to students in their learning experience by allowing them to research and learn without any restrictions of resources. Self-directed learning offers an opportunity to learn about a subject in depth. This kind of learning is not restricted by age. It provides liberty to students in the sphere of education, and minimizes instructional approach.
“We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.” – Malcolm Gladwell
The solutions are not provided before-hand. Students have to find answers on their own. This develops problem-solving capability, and provides new opportunities for learning and growing, emphasizing the process of learning, and not the final outcome. Moreover, it introduces students to the vastness of the world, as the research that they undertake stirs curiosity which internalizes learning. This disables external factors such as peer pressure, importance placed on scores, and other distractions that inhibit learning.
This method makes learning more meaningful and ignites an inner desire to learn and grow. Besides achieving the learning goals, it also helps develop other skills, such as discipline, problem-solving ability, focus, zeal to learn and grow, and many more. These skills become an indispensable part of successful living.
The Role of Teacher and Student in Self-Directed Learning
This method holds both, the teacher and the student, equally responsible for a successful and holistic learning environment. A teacher must have an innate desire to help students. They should be open to suggestions, and work as the facilitators of learning. The traditional authoritarian figure associated with teachers is something that should be discarded.
A teacher must aim to build a cooperative and friendly environment. They should motivate and encourage students, and provide them with timely guidance. They should provide feedback frequently, keeping the learners in the loop and helping them improve.
A student must be optimistic and enthusiastic about learning, and should always take an initiative to enhance their learning level to facilitate personal growth and development. Active participation in learning, further evaluating and improving upon your methods are the fundamentals of holistic learning.
Stages of Self-Directed Learning
Self-directed learning involves four stages:
Assessing the motivation and preparations for learning. Analyzing the current environment, conditions, and learning space.
Identifying and formulating learning goals; creating a well-structured and organized plan with the help of instructors.
Engaging in the learning process. Immersing oneself in the pool of learning is ideal, but staying focused and analyzing the employed learning process is also crucial.
Understanding and evaluating the employed methods, and whether they prove useful or not. If not, adapt a different approach if possible. The whole process of self-learning allows learning, unlearning, and relearning, providing a better understanding of one’s psyche at the same time. Engaging in self-reflection is a great source of self-growth.
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