Throughout the week we led you through some activities related to Self-Guided Learning, also commonly known as Self-Directed Learning (SDL). Please see a summary of the results below:
What is SDL/Value of SDL
SDL is a process by which an individual:
- identifies a gap in his or her knowledge
- defines some learning goals
- identifies the resources necessary for the pursuit of those goals
- utilizes the available resources to learn
- assesses whether the goals have been met
The learner is the sole driving force behind this process – they decide what they wish to learn and how they would like to learn it.
In the current age, where finding the answer to a specific question is at our fingertips, SDL happens all the time. Most people now turn to Google to find their answers or learn a new task.
SDL is very useful in the corporate setting because it is very cost effective, and tailored explicitly to the individual employee’s learning needs. A successful SDL program provides the training resources an employee needs to fill the learning gaps in what they specifically need to perform and grow in their job.
Common Usage of SDL
Our survey questions asked you when you commonly used SDL to learn something. Here are the results:
When was the last time you did any SDL?
67% In the last 24 hours
20% Within the past two days
7% Within the past 7 days
7% Within the past 6 months
Was the SDL activity for personal or professional development?
60% A bit of both
Some examples of SDL people recently did included learning how to woodwork, build a house, braid hair, cooking and recipes and some software issues encountered at work and at home. Most of the examples provided were for personal learning but there were some examples of how they applied SDL at work. For those who did complete SDL it was to address an immediate need and the majority talked about turning to Google or YouTube first. Some also mentioned Pinterest and Wikipedia as well. For those who mentioned fixing technical issues encountered at work, the help function within the software program they were using was the first place those who commented checked.
The most common challenge in SDL mentioned was it can be time consuming to sift through the information to find a suitable solution for their specific problem and sometimes they are not able to find the answer at all. Therefore, a venture that would help those looking for SDL would be a more effective search engine that will help cut down the time people spend finding the appropriate answers or training resource.
Corporate Training Challenges
When I want a quick answer at work I usually:
41.2% Ask a colleague
58.8% Search on the internet
Does your workplace encourage Self-Directed Learning?
Does your employer require you to provide proof of Professional Development activities?
When was the last time you did Professional Development (through your employer)?
8% Within the past 2 days
17% Within the past 7 days
17% Within the past month
58% Within the past 6 months
What form do your Professional Development sessions usually take? (you can select more than one)
25% Self-Directed Learning
33% Self-Paced Learning
17% Training session(s) outside work hours (weekend “retreat” with live instructor)
75% Training session(s) during work hours (live instructor)
Summary of comments – can the content be handled better?
- Offer in blended or flipped format (Brenda, Colleen, Sarah)
- Video option (Brenda)
- Self-directed learning not formal, no extrinsic motivation but expected (Brenda, Stefan, Bryan, Joyce, Cris, Andrew, Craig, Britt, Galina)
- Self-directed learning encouraged but do not complete it – no motivation (Colleen)
- System-wide on-line assessments/training requires proof of confirmation (Sarah, Laila, Galina)
- In-person training (Bryan, Cris)
Most training sessions offered in the workplace are face-to-face. The common criticism of this approach is that it is costly, time consuming and does not always address the individual training needs of the employee. While SDL is used in the workplace there is usually no extrinsic motivation for doing so, it was simply an expected method for employees to complete the task at hand. Some suggestions offered by our participants was to offer training in a blended or flipped format to cut back on the time spent outside the workplace to complete the training.
Barriers to and Opportunities in SDL Corporate Training
What type of barriers do you encounter discouraging you from participating in SDL? (you can select more than one)
25% My ability to participate in SDL is limited at work
92% A lack of time affects my ability to participate in SDL
25% I don’t follow through if I’m not accountable to someone else
17% I find it difficult to set good learning objectives to guide my SDL
17% I’m not sure where to even start looking for resources
25% It can be difficult to find appropriate resources
17% The learning resources I need require payment
25% Much of the learning I’d like to do requires specialized equipment/software
8% I find SDL too unstructured – I can’t tell if I’ve learned enough
Learning Resources Used on the job. Barriers addressed
- TedTalks (criticism – no chat feature and not always content looking for) – (Colleen, Joyce, Andrew, Craig, Britt, Galina)
- Quora (Joyce)
- No internal motivation (for students) – (Cris, Britt)
- Finding time to learn what I want to learn about is a challenge (Andrew, Britt)
- Khan Academy (Craig, Britt)
- Coursera (Galina)
- Lynda.com (Galina)
- Curious.com (Galina)
- Udemy.com (Galina)
- Courses that require payment is a barrier (Galina)
The largest barrier by far to bringing SDL to the workplace is the lack of time (92%). Many participants identified the time required for SDL is not only the time spent learning the new task but also the time spent to find the appropriate training for their gap in knowledge. Sorting through the multitude of choices available now is overwhelming and very time consuming.