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Have you ever built a bookcase? Picked up an instrument? Or taught yourself a new software package? You have probably done something of the sort. Almost everyone, at one time or another, is a self-directed learner. And with ‘quick learner’ and ‘independent worker’ finding their way into every job description, the idea has finally come of age in the business world.
At the workplace. Self Directed Learning (SDL) may be self-initiated or suggested by a boss or colleague. For example, if your supervisor notices that you are having problems with a particular software, he may ask you to “brush up your skills”. As workplace training is not always an option, SDL is the best way to ensure you are on an equal (or higher) footing than the rest of your team.
The steps. 1. Identify learning needs. 2. Create learning goals. 3. Determine learning resources and use them to achieve learning goals. 4. Evaluate learning outcomes.
Avenues such as video tutorials and self-help guides on the internet or books that cover the topic can help a self-directed learner. Asking a colleague for guidance on how to get started or help with a particularly complicated lesson can also help achieve learning goals.
The attitude. The key idea behind SDL is learner responsibility. Once a skill gap is discovered, a proactive attitude can make it disappear by asking the right questions and learning what needs to be known.
In many ways, SDL is a reaction to ‘training’, which can often be slow, textbook oriented and demonstrate few ways of translating into better job performance. Of course, that doesn’t mean SDL only promotes individuals and not teams – by involving other resources including coaches or mentors who can test objectives, a culture of SDL can be promoted whereby employees go the extra mile in filling skill gaps while the organisation tests whether the new found knowledge results in practical performance.
– S Ali Anis
The writer is lead consultant and trainer at Change180. firstname.lastname@example.org.