Self-directed learning (SDL)

This post is part of an effort to explore how different online learning methods affect knowledge retention among students.

A more anarchic form of self-paced learning is self-directed learning, where students take responsibility for their own learning and progress at their own pace and often via their own path. Self-motivation is a requirement, so generally this approach works better for adults than for children.

Self-directed learning is learning in which the conceptualization, design, conduct and evaluation of a learning project are directed by the learner.” (Brookfield, S (2009). Self-Directed Learning. In International Handbook of Education for the Changing World of Work.)

However, self-directed learning doesn’t necessarily mean studying alone.

This does not mean that self-directed learning is highly individualized learning always conducted in isolation. Learners can work in self-directed ways while engaged in group-learning settings…”

This more extreme form of self-paced learning relies on all or most material being available from the start of whatever course of study the student embarks upon.

It seems likely that the sheer mass of available information would lead to confusion and procrastination in all but the most focused students. However, there appear to be no studies either proving or disproving this theory.

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