Self-managed learning and lifelong development — Essay Example

Section A

Self-directed learning is a process whereby individuals take the initiative to determine their specific learning needs, formulate their learning goals, determine material and human resources that are essential for learning, pick and appropriate learning strategies and evaluate the learning outcomes, with or without the assistance of other people.

Elements of Self-Directed Learning

There are elements that are considered essential, in order for self-managed learning to take place. One of the most fundamental aspects of self-directed learning (SDL) is understanding the reason for it. Although humans are always learning consciously or unconsciously, the directed feature of SDL is understanding the purpose and the motivation behind SDL. An effective SDL learner must actively understand the motivation and purpose behind his engagement with SDL. This component of SDL is crucial for its success as it is the key to self-discipline, on the one hand. On the other hand, self-discipline is the value upon which other positive learning habits are built. Like SDL, any other learning module cannot be successful outside the confines and provision of the ability and discipline to study on one’s own. Learning is not a fad and must therefore be accorded the discipline it requires. Likewise, there is no discipline without a sense of purpose.

It is important that the learner enters into a binding agreement with himself, in order for his interaction with SDL to be successful. The self-entered agreement or contract will articulate the learner’s measures, goals and objectives explicitly and help him hold himself accountable to it (the contract). Since the learner is the one who is directing himself throughout the SDL programme, the self-imposed agreement is mandatory for structure. Any personally-borne-and-led initiative must have a formal structure and guide to follow. Besides, one cannot reach his target if he neither has a time-specific measurable goal nor the means by which to bring one’s to account (Bourner, 6-13).

The Benefits to the Organisation and Individual

There is a myriad of ways in which SDL is of much benefit to the individual and organisation. For the organisation, SDL comes in handy in warding off extra operational costs. More specifically, organisations are always in need of training their employees, as a way of helping narrow the performance gap, in the organisation’s attempt at meeting the performance target. Nevertheless, organisations almost always have limited resources. As such, not many organisations can meet all their employees’ training needs. SDL therefore comes in handy in this case.

As already mentioned, SDL helps organisations meet their performance target by helping impart their personnel with skills. The impetus of this benefit is that anyone can use SDL, given that SDE is relevant for every person. The fact that everyone can use SDL to learn means that every one can sharpen his academic and professional skills, at will. This means that, everyone- from new recruits to seasoned senior managers can take the initiative to sharpen and extend his professional competence.

SDL also helps individual learners to learn specifically what they need to learn. SDL does this effectively by taking away the needless rigmaroles of sitting through three-day courses to get only the three hours of learning needed. In this case, SDL helps learners sharpen their knowledge on a specific field of choice. Much time and money expended in the tedious schedule of conventional learning are therefore saved.

Section B

An Evaluation of the Various Approaches to Self-Managed Learning

There are several approaches to SML. One of the approaches includes seminars and conferences. In this approach, an academic environment is made to facilitate instructive and organised lectures, discussions and seminars for students who are to extract knowledge and skills from intellectuals and professionals. This approach to SML may nevertheless stand in the way of an effective learning style theory.

More specifically, the use of instructive and organised lectures and other approaches hereby mentioned may reintroduce the very pitfalls that SML or SDL was trying to nullify. More specifically, the danger of immature studying behaviour may make a comeback as learners probably become indifferent towards learning, or fall asleep. In this case, it might be important to reevaluate the use of the learning style theory. The learner may in this case consider a way of converting a laborious and boring discussion into a valuable exploration. In this effect, he may consider the fielding of critical questions, and/or introducing creative and converse thoughts. The student may also consider consciously using tools of conventional learning such as notebooks and pens for recording interesting, moving and intriguing thoughts, ideas and questions that are to be explored, in lieu of merely transferring notes from the lecturer’s handbook to the student’s, without the concepts being discussed passing through the student’s mind.

Another approach to SML is studying specialty materials such as books, journal articles and opinion pieces from authorities in a given field. This undertaking will grace the SML learner with an extraction of knowledge from those who have proficiency in the field of study that is the learner’s concern. Through this initiative and approach, the learner will be in a position to narrow the knowledge gap between what he wants to learn within a specific time-frame and what he knows, at that given time. In this wavelength, the motivational theory becomes of great benefit. This is because, reading books, journals and opinion pieces from authorities can be tedious, defeating and drab, especially when the topic of interest is complex or of great disinterest to the learner. Nevertheless, with self-motivation, the studying of serious books and scholarly or peer-reviewed articles may be more fun. The learner may therefore help the situation by adopting a wider picture by determining the applicability of the concepts being learnt to day-to-day living or professional use.

The learner will also have to factor in cost-analysis. This is because, a self-managed or self-directed learner must identify particular targets of benefits. Before signing in as a participant in SML or SDL, it is fitting that the learner identifies the skills he wishes to acquire against other costs (such as time, resources and social life) that may have to be incurred. Again, it is expedient that the learner determines the level of his detachment with conventional learning and how he is going to bridge the gap that is specific to services that are limited to the confines of conventional learning. Some form of business fora, student council and representation, learners/students competition, socialisation, direct mentorship and peer group exchanges are a salient feature of learning, yet they are largely provided within the confines of conventional curriculum (Cunningham, 22-32).

Section C: Recommendation and Conclusion

The idea of SML being of great importance to mankind is a matter that is logically and satisfactorily beyond gainsay. Mankind is greatly in need of ridding himself of ignorance and sharpening his skills, as these are the instruments to ameliorating the quality of life. Likewise, learning is most effective when it emanates from and runs on personal resolve and initiatives. Thus, it is important to encourage SML in personal and professional contexts for the pursuit of lifelong development.

One of the ways of encouraging SML is by legally and legitimately sanctioning it. On the side of the government through the department of education, this may involve, legitimising and providing for charters and accreditations for centres and institutions providing SML and its variants such as distance learning. Evaluatory measures must be made to ensure that the credentials earned from SML modules perfectly match those from conventional learning systems. Not only should SML learners be subjected to exams, but the exams must be at par with those of conventional learning systems, in terms of standard. The same applies to certificates being issued. The privilege and powers arising from the certificates earned from both modules must also be commensurate. Giving employment priority to graduates from the conventional learning system will be a sure way of dealing SML a coup de grace.

It is also imperative that a leeway is left for the use of SML for non-sanctioned initiative. In this case, chances should be left for SM learners to be able to engage SML without having to register with, pay fee to or do an exam with any institutions. Learning can be leisure and should therefore not be totally regulated or wholly commercialised.

Works Cited

Bourner, Tom. “Developing Self-Managed Action Learning (SMAL).”

Action Learning: Research and Practice, 8.2 (2011): 6-13. Print

Cunningham, Ian. “Learning to lead — self managed learning and how academics resist understanding the process.” Development and Learning in Organisations: An International Journal, 24.2 (2010): 22-32. Print