In the previous Self-Directed Learning article, we familiarized our readers with the basics of self-directed learning, as well as provided an insight into what the approach of self-learning offers its disciples. Through this article, we offer some effective strategies for self-directed learning to gain or enhance a new skill.
Self-Directed Learning Strategies for Teachers
1. Open Questioning
Preparing lesson plans that include high order, open-ended questions is a powerful medium to engage students and stimulate their curiosity. This eventually leads them down the path of self-directed learning.
“I know of nothing more inspiring than that of making discoveries for one’s self.” – George Washington Carver
Develop questions that compel students to think critically, analyze, and research. Using open-ended questions to introduce different elements of the lessons, instead of direct objectives, opens the door for discussions and debates. This method allows immediate feedback on student’s understanding and knowledge. It also enforces independent thinking.
2. Hybrid or Blended Style
This method of learning primarily focuses on combining the teacher’s interest and curriculum, with the needs and interests of the students. This is done in order to develop a student-centered learning environment.
“Where my reason, imagination, or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn.” – Winston Churchill
Engage students in determining learning goals and forming lesson plans. This stirs a sense of responsibility in them towards learning.
3. Encouraging /Introducing Technology in Classroom
Technology surrounds us at all times. Incorporating it as a tool for education is an effective approach towards creating a dynamic learning environment. Technology widens the horizons of learning beyond the classroom and gives students a chance to engage themselves in the process of learning in a creative manner. Learning comes to them internally when it targets their interest. Thereby, it supports active learning. Internet, then, becomes their substitute teacher.
Create assignments that encourage them to use technology in order to find answers. This prompts them to delve further into the subject. Also, using media in classroom helps make learning fun.
Self-Directed Learning Strategies for Learners
1. Smart Goals
Identifying the final goals is the first step towards starting self-directed learning, but this is not where it ends. It is crucial to create goals for each step. Loosing focus is quite easy; short-term realistic goals help in staying focused and also boost the learning process. Using the SMART framework is one of the most efficient techniques to begin with.
SMART is abbreviated for:
Specific: Be specific about what you want to gain. Do not settle for general goals.
Measurable: Create goals in a manner where you can track your progress.
Attainable: Create realistic goals, challenge yourself, but do not make it impossible for you to accomplish them.
Relevant: Ensure that the goals are relevant to you and are aligned to what you want to achieve. Create reasonable goals that will motivate you.
Time-bound: Set deadlines. Time limits help you remain focused and determined.
2. Mix and Match
Self-directed learning provides the flexibility of choosing a method of learning that is suited to individual needs.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler
Therefore, it is critical to analyze the learning process employed and chosing the methods that align with the learner’s interests. Different subjects require different approaches. Hence, select the most suitable one. Additionally, these can be modified along the way.
3. Productive Learning Mindset
Developing an optimistic and ‘never give up’ attitude is essential for self-directed learning, which is tested frequently at every curve of the learning journey. Learners will have to come to terms with the fact that failure is a part of growth.
Keeping faith in one’s abilities and believing that they can accomplish their goals is a requisite for a fruitful self-directed learning experience. What’s more, learners will have to overcome one of the biggest banes of learning – procrastination, and move ahead with determination and a strong, dedicated mind that stays focused.
4. Sandbox Method
Step 1: Build Your Sandbox
It is advised to create a place where one can experiment and build on their skills. It will motivate them to work more diligently. Share any completed work with peers, teachers, and family from the very beginning. This will help in overcoming public fear and provide valuable feedback at the same time.
Step 2: Research
To master a skill, regular research must be diligently performed. The boundaries of the sandbox will expand upon trying new things and mastering them. The immediate resources are books, online courses, blogs, forums, etc. that will help with research.
Step 3: Implement and Practice
Practice as much as possible in a progressive manner. Self-directed learning negates “naïve practice”, where repeating the same things incessantly is often encouraged. Instead, it promotes the learning of fundamentals and then applying them in a variety of scenarios. Furthermore, this will open cracks in learning and provide a chance to fill those gaps.
Step 4: Get Feedback
Constructive criticism offers opportunities for growth. Finding someone who can provide effective feedback about learning goals, progress, and the work done goes a long way in making any self-learning project successful. It will also help identify any potential shortcomings in the learning strategies employed. Thus, mentors, teachers, or experts of the targeted subject serve as excellent guides for self-directed learning.