11 ways to empower the self-directed learner
By John Helmer
Recently our Head of Transformation, Rachel Cook, contributed a piece to this blog about how changes in the pattern of employment are shaking up the employer/employee relationship. One of the most interesting aspects of Rachel’s work for us was how these changes – momentous enough to get analysts talking in terms of a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ – are highlighting the phenomenon of the self-directed learner.
Aware that this is a source of much debate for the learning and development clients we work with, and in many cases a pain point, we wanted to know more.
We reached out to our research partners, Towards Maturity, for help in investigating this phenomenon, and commissioned a report written by Peter Williams, editor of e.learning age entitled Me Time: Empowering the Self-Directed Learner that you can download for free. The findings were fascinating.
Self-directed learning is no flash in the pan – it’s more like a full-scale kitchen fire. Learners and organisations alike are changing in fundamental ways that L&D is going to have to respond to, or suffer a drift into eventual irrelevance.
The report makes 11 recommendations for how organisations should adapt to the change towards a more self-motivated, self-directed learner.
- Organisations should evaluate the threats and opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution ushering in new technologies and new ways of working.
- Organisations should evaluate how much they need to introduce and enable the concept of learnability.
- Understand the barriers to successful self-directed learning, finding out whether your organisation and your learners have a fixed or a growth mindset. Don’t be judgemental.
- Re-examine how your organisation motivates, develops and retains employees within the context of the impending fourth industrial revolution.
- L&D needs to lead a mindset shift within their own organisation, moving away from learning programmes owned by learning professionals to self-directed solutions owned by individual employees.
- Self-directed learning experiences should be shaped by design thinking’s central principle of putting the user experience ahead of the process.
- Recognise that learners are time-poor and use self-directed learning to help them learn when the need or the opportunity arises.
- Organisations should examine the social connections, workplace experience and formal programmes which are in place to support self-directed learning.
- Dare to rethink learning programmes to encourage and encompass self-directed learning, be prepared to curate content and help support learners in developing their own networks.
- Find out what learners want and how they want it (e.g. short videos, coaching), but bear in mind that it ultimately has to be in line with the organisation’s needs.
- Start to believe your colleagues are capable self-directed learners.