Sunday 26th March, 2017
A student’s ability to make the most out of self-directed learning (SDL) is only limited by the restrictions they impose on themselves, says Oatlands English teacher Erin Maxwell.
“They can become demoralised and reliant on others,” says Erin. “A self-directed student should be open-minded, organised and passionate about new projects in order to facilitate a more confident approach to their learning.”
One of the key elements of SDL is that it helps students become self-sufficient. Erin believes that as they become more involved in this type of learning students will be become more aware of their individual abilities, and will put them in good stead for a the life where they are learning all the time.
Erin points out that all the tools are there. It’s a matter of students taking the opportunities that are presented to them.
“Students should use the physical environment, facilities and equipment that is available to them as a resource to enable them to set clear goals and control the pace and direction of their work,” says Erin. “Students can often become too reliant on extrinsic motivation to encourage them to finish tasks, as they perceive external awards or benefits as the goal of completing an activity.
For teachers, it’s not enough to just encourage SDL, they are a vital part in the other overall goal when encouraging students.
“One challenge we face as teachers is trying to instill in our students the intrinsic desire to learn and to independently expand their knowledge and understanding of a variety of topics,” she says. “This is a difficult mindset to promote, however it is the true test of every teacher is imprint a love of learning onto our students that in turn rouses a sense of self-direction through passion and curiosity.”
Finally, when it comes to technology, most teachers are optimistic with a few caveats thrown in, yet Erin believes students have never been luckier with the amount of online information available to them.
“Technology has continued to energise and revolutionise the teaching process, going above and beyond previous expectations,” says Erin. “This is particularly apparent in its ability to facilitate self-directed learning. This technology can certainly be used to implement programs that allow students to independently tackle activities and subjects that may not have been available to them in the past. With online content and information at their fingertips, a self-directed student has more individual access to knowledge and understanding than ever before.”