OneSchool has been a champion of Self-Directed Learning (SDL) for the past three years. Glenvale’s Head of Primary and Learning Support, Anu Kalra, believes it sows the foundations for life skills. As well as learning, Anu says students learn how to organise their time and resources, plan ahead, cooperate with other students, as well as self-reflect not only on what they have learned, but how they learned.
Then there is the personal development, too. This includes giving students the opportunity to think independently, have self motivation, be resourceful, use their initiative, as well as well as trusting their own judgment.
Anu has several tips for students when starting out on their SDL adventure. “[You should] propose a written learning contract of what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it,” says Anu. “This is the Goal. Then develop a detailed schedule on how you will conduct yourself or work on assignment activities each week. This is the Plan. The next step is to take the initiative to contact your teacher immediately to get the assistance you need – it could be for motivation, resources, feedback, problems. I call this the Conference. Following on from that you meet with your teacher regularly to review progress and discuss tasks completed. That is the Feedback part of the equation. Then you reflect on how well you went on completion of the tasks. This is the Evaluation stage. Finally, you set new goals.”
While all these things are important, Anu says the planning stage has the priority as everything starts from there. Get that wrong, and a student could struggle.
Anu realises that all students will not take immediately to SDL, but it doesn’t have to be hard. They can make things easier for themselves.
“Students can struggle with SDL if they have not developed the essential skills required,” says Anu. “Self-directed learning skills have to be developed right from the primary school level. The essential skills include planning, which starts with maintaining school diaries. Then there are study skills, such as note-taking, reading for different purposes, understanding assignment requirements. Finally there are communication skills that include the ability to write reports, essays, instructions, presentations, display data etcetera.”
In the modern era there are also other aids that students can utilise, such as technology. “In moving with the technological age, students need the internet and technology tools to inquire. That is, ask key questions related to their assignment,” says Anu. “[Technology also helps them] research information required through a variety of resources, present their completed tasks and then communicate with teachers and peers.”