Self Directed Learning Theory – Everything You Should Know

Everyone’s quite taken with self directed learning theory of late. I understand why the implications really do matter, it’s just kind of funny. You see, to people who’ve been in training and who’ve been studying modern alternative learning models, this is not a new thing.

What’s Old is New:

See, self directed learning theory is at its heart the culmination of a wish we all made once upon a time. That very same wish is the same directive that spurred the development of technology-aided learning and new learning models and practices to start with.

We remembered school. Did we hate learning? Certainly not, but classrooms aren’t learning, they’re fact drilling and indoctrination. They were boring and tedious, and we had no agency or control. We had no engagement. Oh, it sucked.

Well, when we got into the business world, and realized that even college isn’t the end of training. No, we now have corporate training. This is not only teaching new employees and showing them the ropes, but also in teaching them new policies, processes, equipment and software on a frequent basis as progress continues in this world.

We experimented with all kinds of ways to remove that suck factor, such as flipped classrooms, organizational learning, gamification and a lot more. All of these worked remarkably well, we discovered. So, which one was king? Well, none of them were, they all had their shortcomings, and all proved to be better for different situations, depending on combination.

The Root:

But, the biggest problem these had, is the difficulty of that initial thing we wished for.

Achieving self-directed learning, where groups or individuals can pace and motivate themselves, and seldom need help or clarification, is really hard to do.

It’s not just about motivation, it’s about confidence and making the resources available, easily, for them to handle whatever comes up be it good or bad. It’s tough to do this.

The Future:

Technology is greatly helping part of this. Things like WalkMe, which is a scriptable tutorial system, are an example. Things like this integrate into web forms, and they guide the user through actually using it, step by step. It can correct mistakes, prompt them on what to do, and spot when they’re confused. It captures analytics too.

This sort of stuff is easy to script and set up, and has been used for this with great success.

Funny thing, the gamification we mentioned earlier is a good way to add that engagement and motivation, and to make “you’re on your own” less of a scary and untenable thing.

Conclusion:

There’s no big solution for self directed learning theory right now, but the basic idea can be achieved like what I talked about above. But, again, that’s all about the future, as most people haven’t attempted this. It means a lack of case study quantity to give it the public momentum it will eventually have. It’s just waiting to catch on, and when it does, a whole host of other ideas and practices to further succeed in implementing this will come around. For now, let’s be glad it’s possible at all, because without WalkMe and the gamification theory, it wouldn’t be.

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Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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