7 ways to make self-directed learning stick

By Amelia Fuell

Cartoon image of learner training her brain, caption: step by step I trained my brain not to wander offLearning has never been more accessible. For virtually any skill – whether it’s learning a language, coding, business management or yoga – learners motivated by their own personal needs and goals will be able to find an online platform or application that has been created to help them. Self-directed learning is becoming more popular too: for example, 58 million people have registered for a massive open online course (MOOC)s since 2011, with nearly half of those signing up in 2016 alone.

But while technology has widened opportunities for skills development, information overload is a growing challenge. There are some 80,000 different education apps on the App Store alone. Furthermore, attrition rates are high: over 90% of people who start a MOOC will never finish it. In the age of distraction, many of us are guilty of downloading an app on our phones with good intentions, but then failing to use it long term.

If you are keen to start learning new skills online, then it can be hard to pick the right course and even harder to stick at it. So how can you create successful habits that will help you learn effectively and achieve your goals? Here are a few essential tips …
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How L&D can help line managers to support learning

By Duncan Barrett

website_blog_300x170While many organisations are looking at how best to support a culture of learning and meet the needs of self-directed learners, many are still dealing with the challenge of engaging employees around content that needs to be delivered and understood by its workforce, whether for compliance or operational reasons.

For L&D teams facing this challenge, the most important ally must surely be the line manager.

We explore these themes in our webinar: Learning in the Line: L&D, line managers & the self-directed learner 

Line managers form a silent (or not so silent) army of support that is ready, willing and able to guide their teams in meeting the challenges of uncertainty and complexity that are sweeping through the world of work as we know it … Well – something along those lines!

In truth, line managers are pulled in multiple directions to meet the needs of the organisation as well as their team.

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11 ways to empower the self-directed learner

By John Helmer

Graphic ident for research report Me Time: Empowering the Self-Directed Learner 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. Continue reading


What motivates self-directed learners?

By Richenda Sabine

Graphic of carrot on a stick to illustrate motivating self-directed learnersWhat motivates you? Is it money, purpose, or something else? According to Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs) our basic needs of security, identity and stimulation have to be met before we progress to self-actualisation (growing and developing to reach our individual potential).

Consider this in the context of learning. Without motivation, learning is rarely effective, so how do you motivate learners in the first place?

The answer, it turns out, is that they can largely do it for themselves.

Daniel Pink, in his book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us‘, dismisses the carrot-and-stick approach and tells us to forget everything we think about motivating people. He believes that the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and the world.

This view is borne out In the organisational context of today by the phenomenon of the self-directed learner, which has been well documented in research from learning benchmarking experts Towards Maturity, telling us that:

  • 88% learn more by finding things out for themselves, rather than through F2F training
  • 87% know what they need to learn in order to do their job
  • 74% know how to access what they need for learning

The research also shows a worrying disconnect with what some learning managers think about their learners, indicating that it is more than ever important to understand what motivates the self-directed learner.

There are two types of motivation:

  • Intrinsic – internally generated and comes from personal enjoyment or from a sense of obligation
  • Extrinsic – generated externally from objects, other people and the environment

The burning question in the world of workplace learning is how to keep these two types of motivation aligned, and not in contradiction with each other, so that self-directed learners stay engaged and motivated.

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