About Self-Directed Learning
There are many different kinds of self-directed learning programs and many ways to deliver them. To make sure we are all on the same page, I've outlined some of the basics that this site uses.
Self-Directed Learning (SDL) is any increase in knowledge, skill or performance pursued by any individual for personal reasons employing any means, in any place at any time at any age.
Moving from Teacher-Directed Learning to Self-Directed Learning
Teacher-Directed Learning (TDL). Teachers or other authorities choose what is learned, why it is to be learned, how it is to be learned, when, where and at what age.
The SDL Spectrum
The spectrum refers to degrees of SDL ranging from entirely teacher-directed learning (TDL) to SDL as defined above. The spectrum includes the following stages or degrees of movement toward SDL.
Incidental Self-Directed Learning.
The occasional introduction of SDL activities into courses or programs that are otherwise teacher-directed (e.g. individual projects, stations, or brief introduction of any other forms of SDL on the spectrum).
Teaching Students to Think Independently.
Courses or programs that emphasize the personal pursuit of meaning through exploration, inquiry, problem solving and creative activity (e.g. debates, case studies, investigations, trials, dramatizations, fieldwork).
Courses or programs presented through learning guides that students complete independently.
Courses or programs in which students pursue course outcomes through activities they design themselves.
Courses or programs in which students choose the outcomes, design their own activities and pursue them in their own way.
Using the Spectrum
Teachers can use the spectrum of approaches to SDL in various ways:
»As a menu from which to select activities and approaches for their own course or programs, or to select the program they wish to introduce.
»As stages in a graduated approach to SDL in their courses that moves them and their students step by step from SDL to SDL.
»As a guide to a school program designed to lead students year by year to greater self-direction with the senior year an SDL year, possibly featuring passages, significant challenges based upon the Walkabout concept.
Preparing Your Program
A program can and will be prepared in many different ways, but here is a brief outline that hits the highlights of any approach you take:
1.Define your course or program in 20-30 outcome statements, outcomes that students must achieve.
2.Select an approach to SDL from the spectrum.
3.Outline the skills, processes and systems that students must master to be skillfully self-directed. Plan an environment that is appropriate for self-directed learning activities.
4.Create the infrastructure for self-direction, self-motivation and self-assessment, such as, learning proposals, portfolios, and public presentations.
I will add to these site basics over time. They comprise a kind of site dictionary of ideas referred to throughout the other sections.
For more details see: Maurice Gibbons. The Self-Directed Learning Handbook Wiley, 2002.