SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING AS A DEVELOPMENT METHOD
Benefits of Self-directed Learning
In recent years self-directed learning has moved from the periphery to the mainstream of management and business development. Most development programmes now include some self-directed learning elements in their overall design and delivery.
The attraction for organizations is that this form of learning:
When used, for example for Induction, capitalizes on the energy and enthusiasm of the New Entrant.
The attraction for individual learners is that self-directed learning:
Supporting Self-directed Learning
The role which trainers play in support self-directed learning is very different from other aspects and responsibilities of the training function. In our work with client organizations we are increasingly involved in helping trainers to manage this transition from trainer-led to learner-led development, and to acquire the different training skills which this new responsibility requires of them.
Key responsibilities which we have identified for trainers in this context include:
For learners who are new to the discipline of self-directed learning, some initial training in how to manage their development is often required. Our experiences of inducting individuals into self-directed learning methods have revealed the following as key themes which need to be included in their preparatory training:
Integrating Self-directed Learning with Other Development Methods
It is possible to design most development programmes to include some elements of self-directed learning as part of their overall delivery mechanism. Effectiveness of training delivered through more traditional, formal methods such as group-based events can be greatly enhanced when supported by continuous, ongoing, self-directed learning.
This example describes how we at DBA integrated trainer-led and self-directed learning methods in one organizationís management development programme, to ensure that the initial learning impetus would be carried through and maintained over the long term, by the learners themselves.
Self-directed Learning in Management Development: an Example
Facilitator-assisted identification of personal development priorities against a range of management development topics
Participants choose between self-study and group training options for their development priorities
Participants choose between self-managed development activities and coaching provided by peers/colleagues
Facilitator-assisted groups to share and discuss participants' development
Self-development groups, managed by participants with complementary or similar development needs
Participants were new to the concept of self-directed learning. A key requirement initially therefore was to prepare participants, setting the programme in context, informing them of their responsibilities as self-directed learners, and supporting them in their choices about their personal development. As participants became more familiar with the concept, trainer input was reduced and ultimately removed. Two years on, peer support groups are still functioning independently of the organization's training function - although training support continues to be made available at the request of learners.