Ok, most of the time I write a post, I feel like I know something about the topic and can talk confidently about it. For this post, I am entering an area I don’t have a great deal of knowledge of or experience in. When it comes to self directed learning, I have discussed it with colleagues and I have read blog posts and articles about it, but I really am just starting to become familiar with the concept in the contemporary sense. I am intrigued by it, and excited about incorporating it more and more in my classroom, but I have a lot of questions.
It seems like this concept is always tied to posts and articles about technology, but I don’t think self directed learning NEEDS technology to happen. Self directed learning by definition:
“In its broadest meaning, ’self-directed learning’ describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with or without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning, choosing and implement appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes. (M. Knowles, Principles of Androgogy, 1972)“
Obviously when this definition was crafted, no one was talking about how Google, Wikipedia, Twitter or Khan Academy could help us towards a more self directed program for our students.
So as I sat in our technology meeting today, I thought about how I would break down the goals of self directed learning as a developing process in my classroom. I thought about how the goals should not mention technology, but can definitely utilize technology as a tool to make a shift occur. So if I take technology out of the equation, I came up with the three goals I would have for my students, as I push them towards self directed learning.
1. Choice – I am going to have to start with providing them more opportunity for choice. By providing them with choices, I will help them realize that they can play a role in shaping their education. The inherent sense of control that comes with choice should show them the role they can play. The hope would be that with choice comes buy-in, and a more dedicated effort towards learning.
2. Motivation – The more control I start to pass on to my students, the more likely they will be motivated to participate in the learning process. By handing over control to the students more and more often, I would pursue a transformation in the way they viewed the way they learn. This will definitely be a difficult process, as I will need to provide opportunities for this to occur. My lessons will need to provoke thought, create curiosity and inspire inquiry.
3. Ownership – In the end, I would want the learning process to be entirely in the hands of each student. 12 months a year, all waking hours of the day, anywhere in the world, I want my students to own their learning and not have to wait for a school, a teacher or a parent to provide that opportunity. We all want our students to be able to learn without us involved.
So as I thought up these three goals for my own planning, our presenter put up a slide in her presentation that listed three goals for technology planning in our school division. They were…
Enable – Engage – Empower
I immediately went back to my list and thought about how my three goals compare to these three goals.
Enable/Choice – Engage/Motivate – Empower/Ownership
I was pleased to see that there was some similarity between them, I am hoping it means I am on the right track.
When it comes to making a significant change in education, I think it is easy to get excited and rush into it, especially if it involves technology. I know I am guilty of seeing the iPad and just assuming it would be the greatest educational tool imaginable. I believe it is important to plan for the “Why” before you start to think about the “How”. I have no doubt that technology will help make self directed learning achievable, but technology isn’t the reason self directed learning is a good idea. I want to work towards self directed learning with my students to achieve the goals I talked about.
As I said, this is not an area I am overly confident in, but it is an area I am very interested in. What are your thoughts on empowering our students to be more self directed in their learning? Are these goals on the right track? Is technology necessary for this to occur? Let me know what you think.