Leading A New Generation – Self Directed Learning
Self Directed Learning – what is it?
Self-directed Learning, as the name suggests, is a learning method which places the onus and responsibility directly on the student.
Learners take full initiative and ownership for their own learning journey, and navigate their subjects with extensive support from the teachers. The teacher’s role in this learning model is also of huge importance. Without good teachers the scheme will not work. Teachers provide learning resources and give a strong foundation from which the students can propel themselves forward.
This method of learning is traditionally used in adult learning scenarios, but is becoming more and more prevalent in schools nationwide. Self-directed learning prepares students for life beyond school; for real life scenarios where teachers aren’t chasing up homework, you don’t have bells to signal lesson changes, and time has to be managed before it slips away.
Students are given responsibility for their learning, and they must apply self-motivation, time management and self-discipline to ensure a successful outcome. Self-directed learning makes use of digital technology, and the internet plays a huge role in informing and guiding the student.
Although today’s approach to self-directed learning (SDL) widely uses the internet to aid students, great learners of history like Greek philosophers; Plato, Socrates and Aristotle were also products of self-directed learning.
Industrialisation changed our approach to learning, and for the last few hundreds of years, students have been mass educated, moving the entire class at a steady pace. One of the many benefits of SDL is that it allows brighter students to forge ahead, whilst a more steady slower learner is able to work at their own pace, learning what they need to at each stage of the syllabus, in their own time.
How Self Directed Learning Works for The Student.
Self-directed learners have to be more disciplined and motivated. This learning model helps students to become more resilient, confident and goal-oriented. Students work individually or collaboratively through their course content. Time management also plays an important role.
Through the internet, students can collaborate with or learn from knowledge sources outside their school environment. Collaboration projects have led to some interesting outcomes, as students cross boundaries in the pursuit of a deeper understanding of their subjects.
For the learner, self-directed learning also give student’s their own identity. Helping them develop an understanding of who they are as an individual, and how they learn best. This is in direct contrast to the mass-educating style of the traditional classroom, where everyone is set the same task and completes it in the same way.
Because the responsibility lies with the learner themselves, he or she can choose how, when and where they work. Students learn in ways that best suit them as an individual, rather than waiting for the class as a whole.
The Teacher’s Role in Self Directed Learning
The teacher plays a hugely important role in this learning model. Without inspirational and forward-thinking teachers, self-directed learning will not function successfully. Passion and enthusiasm for the subject should flow from them, as they guide and aid students through the learning syllabus.
The teacher helps students to focus, set goals, organise their learning journey and manage distractions.
The pace of the course is agreed by both students and teachers, and regular meetings help ensure the student is kept on track and motivated.
Teachers give an overview of the subject, then give students key points to research, finishing up the subject with an overall question to ensure the students have the relevant understanding, before moving onto the next section of the course. Course feedback is discussed between teacher and student, and teachers are able to offer help or extra assistance on any areas of study that the student is not confident with.
Class instructors split their time between class tuition and explanation, and individual tutoring and guiding. Teachers are able to invest in students on a personal level, addressing issues and celebrating victories as they arise.
The Self Directed Learning Environment
The overall SDL environment is made up of 3 core environments. Getting these in balance will guarantee you the best outcome.
1. Physical Environment
The learning environment for self-directed learning has certain similarities to an activity based working office. The space is broken down into a number of different environments, each specifically suited to tasks. For example, there may be small quiet rooms for focussed working, or collaboration tables for group learning.
The overall learning environment caters to different learning styles and methods through a range of smaller micro-zones. The student can then choose an area that best suits their tasks or style of working.
2. Behavioural Environment
Managing students and teachers in this new method of working requires careful handling. Too much restriction and students aren’t given the freedom they need, and too little restriction and guidance leaves students and teachers unsure of the boundaries, and unwilling to give SDL their all.
3. Virtual or Digital Environment
Individual student devices are a core ingredient for the success of self-directed learning in your school. As are collaboration portals and online file sharing.
Teachers need to be able to communicate with and share information to students outside of lesson times.
Robust connectivity and wireless solutions also enable students to maximise use of the different spaces within the SDL learning environment
Some SDL-Related Terms You Will Need To Be Aware Of
Just in time learning – Having access to knowledge as and when you need it. The ability to be able to tap into existing knowledge sources when a question arises without having to wait until the next day, or a response from a third party. This is largely achieved through the internet (for example video tutorials, university research papers etc.) This allows students to synchronise learning with their personal schedule.
Blended learning – an alternative learning model to Self-Directed Learning, that blends face to face instruction with online resources, creating a more dynamic learning journey.
Flipped learning – A learning style that encourages students to research and invest time in the subject before class, then uses class time to dive deeper into course content and complete project based assignments. Teachers may share lectures in a video format, or specific resources for students to watch or read in their own time prior to the lesson.
Bringing It All Together
A more collaborative approach to learning has been proven to give better results. However, it all depends on a successful implementation strategy.
Here at Envoplan we specialise in helping schools to bring their learning environments up to date, bridging the gap between architects and the end users of your space. We want your students and teachers achieve better results. Our unique evidence-based design approach empowers you to create a learning environment that will set your school apart, attracting top students and teachers and improving the overall learning journey.
Our team are ready to help you accomodate new ways of learning. Why not book in your free design consultation with one of our learning environment specialists. We’ll talk through your strategy with you and work closely with you, helping you achieve the most successful outcome from your project.
Are You Ready To Implement New Ways of Learning?
Contact us on 020 8997 9868 or firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to talk through your vision and help you create a cohesive learning strategy.