Self-directed Learning is a method of learning where by the students do not have a face to face interaction with their facilitators. In most cases this type of learning is carried out online and a lot of self-directing is needed. For this type of learning there is no physical appearance with the instructor therefore a lot of self drive is needed from the learners. Studies have been carried out and it has been observed that online learning has a lot of benefits such as flexibility and convenience. On the other hand this type of learning has its own disadvantages which include technical problems with the computers, lack of a sense of community and derailed communication.
The introduction of a self-directed learning was a very wise choice because it has brought a lot of help to those who are willing to study but they are too busy to attend classes. In most cases this kind of learning is applicable to adults who have responsibilities of families and yet they wish to further their studies. The problem is that self directed learning needs a lot of commitment in terms concentration because there is no instructor to explain the concepts in detail. It requires one to have a high level of understanding and self drive because the method of studying can be quite boring. That is the reason as to why it’s best when used by the adults because their level of being distracted is very low.
It would not be a fair idea to make all learning as a self directed learning. This is because most learners need an instructor to explain to them unfamiliar concepts for easy understanding. It is an observation that most young people do not enjoy reading on their own therefore making them understand concepts that they haven’t learnt before would be very difficult and this would make them despise learning. The best way to carryout the self-directed learning is to make it open to anyone who feels that they have a high level of self direction and self motivation. Though there is a lot of highlighting on self-directed learning, the learner cannot exist in a void. He or she needs other self-directed learners so that they can learn from each other on their experiences (Crawford, 2004).
Research has been carried out and various models were formed to describe the relevance of the self-directed learning. Different perspectives have been presented by different scholars on their views about the self-directed learning. Some of them view it as a process of organizing instruction where there is a lot of emphasis on the learner sovereignty (Song and Hill, 2007). Others view it as a personal dedication with the goal of the education as developing individuals who can assume intellectual, moral and emotional independence. The proposed models are to help in the understanding of the self-directed learning.
The first model is Candy’s four dimensional model. Candy concluded that as a cover concept, self-directed learning has four dimensions: self direction as a personal sovereignty, self direction as the capacity and willingness of a person to conduct their own learning, self direction as a mode of organizing their own instruction in settings that are formal and self direction as an individual not necessarily having to do their learning in institutions (Song and Hill, 2007). This model was the first to state that a learner’s self direction may be different in the dissimilar content areas. The problem was that the model did not depict how self directed learning is important in the different learning contexts like classroom learning or online learning.
The second model is Garrison’s three dimensional model. This model includes the perceptions on the personal independence and the learning process as well. According to Garrison, self directed learning is achieved by the combination of three dimensions: motivation, self monitoring and self management. Garrison’s model focuses on the learning resources, use of learning strategies and having the motivation to learn. In this model, Garrison explained that self management involved learners taking over the learning contexts by learning from amongst themselves and being able to achieve the relevant objectives. By talking of learner control, Garrison did not mean that the learners should be independent but rather should interact with the other learners within the context. By this we see that Garrison attained the perspective of learning processes (Song and Hill, 2007).
The third model is Brockett and Hiemstra’s personal responsibility orientation model. Brockett and Hiemstra provided two orientations in developing a clear understanding on the self directed learning. They concentrated more on the concepts of process and goal. In the first orientation, self directed learning is viewed as a process where the learner assumes personal liability on the learning process. In the second orientation self directed learning is viewed as a goal where the learner desires to assume accountability for learning. In this model the issue of social context was added and therefore they considered the discussion on the role of the institutions and policies. In the time of development of this model, the addition of this component was very significant. That has changed in the education climate today and the concept of social context is rather limited.
Adults do very well in the self directed learning according to the research done. This is because when they decide to attend to an issue they do it willingly without being forced. They always have self motivation but they also need motivation form other people. As members of the family of the learner, they should encourage the learner to carry out the personal studies and they should always be there to give him or her moral support. By this, the learner will know that what he or she is doing is of significance and will be motivated to do it more. If a self directed learner is under employment, the employer may support him or her by giving time off and releasing him or her early out of work so that she may get the time to study and look for learning materials. The employers can also offer to pay for the education the learner is pursuing and this will highly improve their skills leading to positive outcome of the organization. Good friends offer encouragement in different ways. Those who have gone through this method of learning will assist the learners on the concepts that they don’t understand. This is also another form of motivation to the learner. For the instructors, it is good to ensure that the learner is not stranded and that they are at per with the course outline. They should ensure that the materials needed for the study are readily available at the required time. Getting support from all these parties will highly improve the perception of the learner of this king of learning.
Merriam & Cafarella (1999) have done a review on Jarvis’s work and given a wider explanation on the adult learners. It has been observed that one of the most significant qualities that are unique to adult learning is experience. That life experience provides adult learners a significant advantage in their learning process. The many experiences they have had give them a point of reference for appliance and fresh learning.
Andragogy, a European concept was made known by Malcolm Knowles. Andragogy, according to Knowles means, the art and science of helping adults learn. Knowles identified this as a rising technology that aids the development and execution of the learning methodologies for adults (Crawford, 2004). The Andragogy is based on four assumptions which include:
Knowles assumes that as a person matures or grows up into and adult, he or she moves from dependency to self-directness. Therefore it is assumed that the person is capable of directing their own learning without being monitored. The implication for this assumption is that a self directed learning environment requires them to establish their own goals and objectives therefore the facilitators will be required to give up control of the course and allow the learner to be empowered and this will create a good learning environment.
The role of learner’s experience
It is assumed that adults use their experience in their learning. The learning opportunities should be relevant and applicable to a person’s experiences. Experience is said to be an important factor in one’s ability to create retain and transfer knowledge. The implication for this assumption is facilitators must create an environment which the learners are free to share their experiences with other learners. There should be good communication between the learner and facilitator (Blondy, 2007).
Readiness to learn
Adults are ready to learn those things they are ready to learn and be able to carry them out in order to be able to cope with the real life situations. They will always be anxious to learn in order to apply the concepts. Facilitators must understand that each learner enters the online learning for a specific reason. They must take time to discuss the learner’s needs and this should be the central focus.
Orientation to learning
Unlike children who are usually subject-centered, adults are usually life-centered which is in terms of task or problem. Their main aim of getting the learning is to be able to apply what they have learned to solve the problems present. This assumption implies that curriculum should be procedure based in opposition to content based to consent the learners to widen content in accord with their precise requirements. The learners should have the ability to make the connection with everyday life with what they learn (Blondy, 2007).