How Technology Supports Self-Directed Learning

How Technology Supports Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning is a type of learning in which learners are allowed to work on authentic problems and tasks of their own choice, and are still provided learning support in context to their problems.

Self-directed learning is an essential skill

required in the 21st century educational world. This learning approach increases the motivation of students to learn, since they are the makers of their own knowledge, they experience a sense of independence while learning. This process keeps them engaged, since now they have to acquire knowledge on their own, and apply it along with their skills to find solutions to their problems, evolve their learning and be encouraged for life-long learning.

Self-directed learning can be facilitated through scaffolded instructions. Scaffolds are supporting elements which aid learners in developing knowledge and skills. These instructions can be imparted by; modeling desired behavior, providing explanations about concepts with illustrations, inviting learners to participate in a task in which the instructor acts more like a guide, and gradually withdrawing instructor support to pave way for learner independence.

We know that, technology supports learning and teaching of all kinds, and there in nothing today, which cannot be attained or aided by technology. Learning through self-direction can be refined and amplified with the use of technology. Technology can support lifelong, self-directed learning beyond the regular classroom. There has been a great rise in the use of ICT in education, owing to the spread of education among masses across the world, where due to the ready availability of ICT enabled tools, self-directed learning can be enhanced. The context of self-directed learning has now changed with online learning, greater access to technology, personalized learning experiences, and access to information sources that were not available earlier. Schools are recognizing the significance of self-directed learning and are encouraging their teachers to facilitate such type of learning in the classrooms.

The concept of self-directed learning prevails in educational technology as a way to differentiate learning, change the role of learners and teacher in the classroom, alter the time/place of learning, and revolutionize traditional schooling. New developments in 21st century education such as online learning opportunities, pedagogical shifts and availability of Internet on mobile devices have put additional expectations on learners to take more initiative in their own learning. Similarly, innovations such as Khan Academy or the Flipped Classroom have put to light the value of self-directed learning in schools and have led to consequent changes in the role of the traditional classroom teacher. With these approaches, additional class-time is not needed for direct instructional purposes and the teacher is more available to address questions and individualize instruction. There are various other ways in which technology supports learners in self-directed learning, some tools and strategies for the purpose are:

Online Learning : It exposes students to a wide range of resources available online, covering their areas of interests, which they can learn at their own pace, personally. Online learning increases the effectiveness in student learning.

Free OER: Open Educational Resources are quality resources provided for learning, for free. Through these resources students are able to learn any subject they want on their own, and the constant need for a teacher is eliminated.

Personal Learning Networks : PLN form the core of passionate self-directed learning. These can be created through blogs, social networks such as, Twitter, Facebook, etc. They facilitate collaboration which helps in self-directed learning.

Video-conferencing tools : Tools like Skype, help turn classrooms into global communication centers for free. Students can connect with anyone around the world, to discuss topics of their interest, and with experts or educators to learn from.

Self-publishing : It can be used by students to reach an audience beyond their teacher. They can share their ideas and work with real audiences outside of their schools. This is made possible through blogging or social sites.

Twitter : It helps students create micro-blogs, through which they can connect with the people who share their interests. They can follow them, reply to them and use the search term in their tweets for others to see what they share.

YouTube/iTunes : YouTube adds the visual element to make learning more powerful. Both these platforms are used by school and college/university professors to share content for free. They empower students and teachers to design their own learning.

ePortfolios : These help students keep track of their own achievements and share them with others. They are free and easy to create; students create a container like, a blog, wiki or website, organize it and post their work.

Self-assessment : Students instead of relying on teachers to get evaluated, should assess themselves by; sharing their work with others to get feedback for improvement, practice tests on a test prep and review site, create videos and look for views and comments on them, develop their own learning plans/assessments and more.

Self-directed learning gives us a clear understanding of the relationship between learning and technologies. Technology provides boundless access for learners to connect with others, explore topics of interests and be a part of opportunities and events across the globe. Latest technologies also allow for newer ways to modernize classrooms, providing higher flexibility to students to organize their own resources, adopt their own learning styles, and study individually or collaboratively. Clearly, technology has significant implications for the development and support of self-directed learning. Share your views and knowledge with us. Make your comments in the Comment Box.

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About the Author
Author: Saomya Saxena
Educational technology blogger, loves to research and write about tools and tips for educators on how to integrate technology into everyday instruction creatively and effectively. Fond of reading and writing.

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