Try to think about a time in your life when you wanted to learn a new skill or know something without having to take a formal lesson. For example, you wanted to learn to play the guitar or any other musical instrument out of your hobby. Or maybe you wanted to bake something or a DIY project you found interesting. Now consider the moments you pursued knowledge entirely on your own because the topic amused you or you simply wanted to learn
Consider the moments you pursued knowledge entirely on your own because the topic interested you or you just wanted to learn how to do something.
Now as we all are aware that the ways of obtaining and using information have drastically changed in the last couple of years. Information has become more accessible from multiple sources. This, in turn, has challenged the notion that information is unchangeable, as well as the belief that everyone has access to accurate information. With learning, comes memorization of information. This gives rise to conceiving, knowing, and understanding any subject.
Therefore, the importance attached to memorization faded as conceiving the nature of knowledge and learning has changed, and learning how to learn, gained substantial ground.
Now individuals who have learned how to learn can organize their own learning, easily transfer new information to larger contexts, overcome difficulties, and they are more open to development and change. They also possess self-confidence and awareness, they are willing to learn, they can use multiple learning strategies, and they know their own learning styles, interests, and talents quite well.
What is self-directed learning?
Also known as learning by oneself, self-directed learning in its largest sense refers to an individual's ability to take the initiative to identify their own learning needs, their ability to determine their learning goals, their ability to define the sources they need in order to learn, their ability to choose/use appropriate learning strategies and evaluate learning outcomes with or without help from an outsider.
Self-directed learning can be defined as a process where individuals take primary charge of planning, continuing, and evaluating their learning experiences.
In self-directed learning, the responsibility to learn shifts from an external source such as a teacher, etc. to the individual. Self-directed learning covers the conceptualization, design, implementation, and evaluation of learning guided by learners. It may also be referred to as a method of organizing learning in which learners control the task of learning.
In addition to these, self-directed learning may also be viewed as a target that learners strive to achieve. In order to achieve it, individuals take responsibility for their own learning and embrace individual autonomy and preferences.
Self-directed learners have the following characteristics:
- They set clear goals for themselves.
- They shape their learning process in line with goals and plans.
- They monitor their own learning process.
- They evaluate the outcomes of their own learning.
- They are autonomous.
- They are self-motivated.
- They are open to learning.
- They are curious thinkers.
- They are willing to learn.
- They value the learning process.
- They have self-control.
- They take initiative to learn
Self-directed learning enables individuals to improve their self-confidence, autonomy, motivation, and lifelong learning skills. It turns learners into active participants in the learning process and encourages them to become deep learners. However, there are several competencies that self-directed learning requires. Given below are a few.
- The ability to enter into a close, respectful and learning-friendly relationship with learners.
- The ability to establish an environment that is physically and psychologically comfortable, open to interaction, based on cooperation, open and secure.
- The ability to take responsibility for determining one's own learning needs.
- The ability to set clear goals.
- The ability to plan, implement and evaluate learning activities.
- The ability to help learners to self-direct their learning.
- The ability to be a facilitator and a source.
- The ability to effectively use small group processes.
- The ability to evaluate learning processes and outcomes.
Benefits of self-directed learning
- With lifelong learning, individuals can easily become aware of their own learning needs and they can now decide how they want to reach knowledge. At the same time, they can very well understand the nature of knowledge instead of memorizing it.
- Lifelong learning enables individuals who seek self-development or further education to meet their learning needs independently and flexibly.
- Lifelong learning also focuses on knowledge and skills needed by everyone regardless of age.
- The literature reveals that lifelong learning covers various skills known as twenty-first-century skills and these skills are thought to be increasingly important in information societies. Self-directed learning skills are also an important part of these skills.
Self-directed learning is a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.