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Self Directed Learning

October 22, 2018


What is the last thing you learned and why did you learn it? For many years researchers thought that adults were not capable of learning new things. They believed when you reached a certain age, what you knew wouldn’t change for the rest of your life. I am sure glad that researchers proved that theory wrong but what they did learn was that adults learn things differently than children. For adults unlike kids, learning is a much more intentional act and what adults choose to learn is based on their self direction.


According to researchers, self directed learning is a four step process. The learner must first assess their readiness to learn. Do I really want to learn about this? Why is it important to me? Second they must set their learning goal. What is it that I want to learn? Third they must engage in the learning process. How will I go about learning the information I seek? Fourth they must evaluate the learning. How does this information apply to me?


For instance, a personal example is the purchase of my new Ipad Pro.


Step 1: The learner must first assess their readiness to learn: I was tired of carrying around several heavy notebooks with unorganized information for both school and work. I knew I needed a different option and was ready to explore what those were.


Step 2. Set learning goals: My learning goal was to explore my different options. I would first research organizational options on the computer, talk to friends and family, and then visit several stores such as Target and Best Buy to learn about organization and technology options.


Step 3. Engage in the Learning Process: One thing that I know about myself is I love pen and paper because when I write something down it helps me to remember it. Rarely do I need to reference what I have written again, the mere act of writing it as opposed to typing it helps me retain information. Knowing this, I was hesitant to give up my notebook option and was more curious about searching other organizational options. As I learned about my options, a good friend of mine suggested getting the Ipad pro. He said that I could easily organize my notes into electronic journals and if I bought the Apple Pen, I could still write notes and even have an app that turned them into text.


Step 4. Evaluate the Learning: After all of my research consulting others, visiting stores, and trying out different tablet options, I decided to purchase the Ipad Pro. I loved that when I wrote on it, it was just like writing on paper. The handwriting looked almost exactly as it looks when I scribble in a notebook, messy. I knew that Ipads were expensive and after thinking about it, I realized that it was an investment that would save me time and money in the long run. I would no longer spend time looking through multiple journals for notes. I would save my back and shoulders from carrying the weight of multiple journals. I also knew that whatever information I write was safely secured and backed up in the event something happened such as losing my bag or it getting wet in the rain.


Though I had been thinking about replacing my antiquated ways for a long time, it took the process of self directed learning and me being intentional about the learning for me to make the switch. If you have something you have been wanting to explore learning, I encourage you to walk through these steps. Though they seem simple, they can really help you gain clarity as to what you are trying to learn, why you want to learn it,  how you will learn it, and then how you will apply it moving forward.

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