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.
- 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.
- Show that you’re comfortable with independence- Even in groups, model to your peers that you are self-reliant.
- Be persistent-
- Look at problems as challenges
- Be disciplined-
- Always be curious- don’t hesitate to ask further questions to classmates and teachers
- Be self- confident- always believe that every task can be achieved
- 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.