Dimensions to SDL in an Open-Networked Environment

Monday, 03 January 2011 16:00


By: Rita Kop and Hélène Fournier

New technologies have changed the educational landscape. It is now possible for self-directed learners to participate informally in learning events on open online networks, such as in Massive Open Online Courses. Our research analyzed the agency and level of autonomy required by learners participating in a course of this nature. Using Bouchard’s four-dimensional model of learner control, we found that there are new dimensions to self-directed learning in connectivist learning environments. The research also brought to light new challenges and opportunities for self-directed learners who might not be able to call on trusted educators for support in their learning endeavors, but rely on the aggregation of information and informal communication and collaboration available through social media to advance their learning.

The proliferation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in recent years has changed the educational landscape. It has added to the complexity of our lives and aided in the creation of a plethora of new opportunities for learning. Faculty members are changing their practice and are experimenting with open educational resources and cloud computing, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), acknowledging that informal and self-directed learning now form part of our everyday existence. The technology, however, raises new challenges and opportunities for the self-directed learner, who might no longer be able to call on a trusted educator for support in his or her learning endeavor.

The emerging technologies that are currently shaping the Internet and the Web provide us with access to information and the ability to work and learn with others in a creative global collaboration outside the educational structures that have been the norm for centuries (Downes, 2010; Fournier & Kop, 2010). New structures and environments are in place where people can learn autonomously, but one might question if people will be able to do so effectively (Kop & Bouchard, 2011). Two areas of research are foundational to examining learning in open networked environments: learner autonomy and connectivism.





 International Journal for Self-Directed Learning, Volume 7, Number 2, Fall 2010

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 12:54