How to Succeed in Distance Learning


The assumption that distance learning is easy and less rigorous compare to being confined in the four walls of the classroom and face-to-face with the teachers and other learners is absolutely incorrect. Using the lens of my autobiography as a teacher and now a learner, I have experienced many challenges that I thought I wouldn’t be able to overcome. I was pushed beyond my limits and was forced to make necessary changes in my lifestyle and learning habits to be able to get through this journey successfully.

I believe that self-directedness is the most important behavior a student must have in this kind of a learning environment. As a practicing teacher, I assumed that self-directedness is innate to all adult learners. My assumption had made me believe that if only my students were smart, motivated and mature enough then they could easily be self-directed. However, being the learner myself, I realized that it takes a lot from me to be self-directed. My personal experience proved my assumption wrong.

Using theoretical literatures as lenses, it is claimed that there are several things are known about self-directed learning:

(a) individual learners can become empowered to

take increasingly more responsibility for various decisions associated with the learning endeavor;

(b) self-direction is best viewed as a continuum or characteristic that exists to some degree in every person and learning situation;

(c) self-direction does not necessarily mean all learning will take place in isolation from others;

(d) self-directed learners appear able to transfer learning, in terms of both knowledge and study skill, from one situation to another;

(e) self-directed study can involve various activities and resources, such as self-guided reading, participation in study groups, internships, electronic dialogues, and reflective writing activities; (f) effective roles for teachers in self-directed learning are possible, such as dialogue with learners, securing resources, evaluating outcomes, and promoting critical thinking; (g) some educational institutions are finding ways to support self-directed study through open-learning programs, individualized study options, non-traditional course offerings, and other innovative programs.

The faculty in UPOU had done a great job in facilitating our learning. The learning tasks given were carefully chosen to achieve necessary skills to be developed by learners. Being in a distance learning environment has taught me in developing a different set of learning skills that made me grow as a learner. I started setting goals for myself, I do my best to engage in discussion and learn from others. I also learned to acquire strategies in problem solving things and finding out ways of effectively dealing with the learning tasks given by my teachers. I was also encouraged to learn with others through small groups or peer work.

For distant learners like us, it’s imperative that we model being self-directed to other learners by doing the following tips.

  1. Always take initiative- Whenever you are given opportunities to collaborate, take initiative in doing some of the tasks instead of waiting for your team mate to tell you what to do.
  2. Show that you’re comfortable with independence- Even in groups, model to your peers that you are self-reliant.
  3. Be persistent-
  4. Look at problems as challenges
  5. Be disciplined-
  6. Always be curious- don’t hesitate to ask further questions to classmates and teachers
  7. Be self- confident- always believe that every task can be achieved
  8. Manage your time- know how to set little goals and deadline for you to achieve a task successfully and on time. In a group, you could suggest creating a timeline for all of you to have a solid idea when you should be finishing the task.

Self-directedness can be learned. It helps to look at student models when trying to understand difficult tasks. The examples, explanations and other resources provided by peers will help you comprehend a certain concept better. Through observation, you would also notice that several learners are active in engaging in class discussions. They set a good example that tasks can be done because they did it. These students are self-directed and as a result have high self-efficacy. It helps them in tackling difficult tasks. Learn from these students by working or collaborating with them. You could also ask for some tips on how to develop this ability.



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