Many individuals have taken charge of their own personal learning and professional development to acquire new knowledge and skills, keep up to date with what is happening in their industry or profession, as well as network with others in the same profession.
Traditionally this has meant reading books, journal articles and industry magazines, attending industry conferences and other professional networking events.
However a huge number are now using the Social Web for their own personal learning (outside of the organisation), by accessing
- formal courses (of their own) choice, and in this respect, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have become particularly popular
- informational resources in a variety of formats, but particularly video is very popular
- social networks to connect and converse with their friends and colleagues
Becoming a self-directed learner, individual is going to be a vital skill for the future, as organizations will be unable to keep up with the fast pace of change. But it is not just about using a range of PERSONAL (social) tools, it is also be about having good PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT techniques to deal with the huge amounts of information and make sense of it. It is becoming impossible for organizations to provide everything their people need to know, so they will need to encourage and support the new skills involved in effective self-directed learning.
Selected quotes from selected reading
These resources look at the importance of self-directed learning.
- Three Ways to Teach Yourself Something New, LIfehacker, 9 August 2012
“If you look closely at people who are succeeding in this new digital world of work, you’ll notice they have something in common: they’re fast learners and they’re willing to adapt. If you want to grow as a person and a worker and if you want to gain skills that will help you take that next step in your career, you’ll probably have to learn those skills on your own.
In the post-recession workplace, your company probably isn’t going to send you to a conference so you can learn that new skill that will make you an even more valuable employee. (And if your employer DOES send you to that conference, we all want to know who you work for.) Your boss probably doesn’t have time to hold your hand as you figure out how to use a new tool that will make your team more efficient. And it’s unlikely you’ll be encouraged to spend your workday focusing on forward-looking, innovative projects that will really help you grow.”
- The world of massive open online courses – Online Colleges, 11 July 2012
- Professionals spend 40% of their online time in online peer communities – Social Business News, 1 August 2012
“Nearly 80% of respondents participate in online groups to help others by sharing information and experiences; 66% participate in a professional community of colleagues and peers; 41% participate in groups to be seen as someone knowledgeable.”
- The Opportunity—and Threat—of Self-Directed Learning - Celia Steele, 1 August 2012
“Malcolm Knowles believed that adults want—and need—to be seen and treated as self-directed learners. But many adult learners don’t know how to be self-directed because their prior learning experience (in the K-12 teacher- and curriculum-centric pedagogical model) didn’t prepare them to participate.
Knowles and his collaborators wrote in more recent editions of The Adult Learner: “The minute adults walk into an activity labeled ‘education,’ ‘training,’ or anything synonymous, they hark back to their conditioning in their previous school experience, put on their dunce hats of dependency, fold their arms, sit back, and say ‘teach me.’”
Don’t let your learners put on their dunce hats. More than ever, learners must think strategically about how they build their professional skills and knowledge over the course of their career. You have to recognize self-direction as an inherent need of adult learners and help those learners clearly see where your organization fits in the strategy.”
- Why learn? – Stephen J Gill, 20 July 2012
“Why should you keep on learning? You have a college degree, maybe a terminal degree such as MBA or Ph.D. You have a job that you know how to do and you’re good at it. You get a regular paycheck, and, if you’re lucky, have a long-term contract and stock options. Other than your supplier’s new products and services, what is there left to learn?”
- Education Unleashed: Now It’s All Up To You – John Mayerhofer, 18 July 2012
“In 2012, the only thing left standing between you and knowledge is your will to learn.”
- Career Coach: What are you doing to keep learning?, 18 July 2012
“None of us can afford to remain stagnant in our knowledge. Organizations need to ensure that individuals keep learning. To do this, they must create a culture of self-directed learners who are excited about learning and incentivized to advance knowledge and skills.
- Do you brag about your personal learning network? - Craig Wiggins, Learning Circuits, 10 July 2012
“As I rely on a large, diverse learning network to help me be competent and prescient, I hope to show (not tell) that I am here to solve problems, not simply build courses or teach classes. I can suggest and employ social and informal learning strategies in part because they’re already working: social media tools, content curation, collaboration, and networked learning are making me better and what I do.”
- Leaders prefer informal learning, research find – Training Journal, 29 June 2012
“The research carried out by learning providers GoodPractice shows a strong preference for social learning and support. Activities such as face-to-face or telephone discussions with peers are proving to be popular choices in this economic climate. On-the-job learning and tapping into informal hubs of expertise in order to share experiences and highlight best practice was also popular.”
- Why We Stop Learning: The Paradox of Expertise - Matthew Liebermann, Psychology Today, 21 June 2012
“Alas, at some point we change. We stop learning. We move from being learners to being knowers. Strangely, being someone who ‘knows’ can interfere with being someone who ‘learns’. Paradoxically, the better we were at learning, the worse this problem can be. Why does knowing get in the way of learning? We constantly need to keep learning regardless of how much we knew at some point in time. But identifying ourselves as an expert, or knowing that others identify us as an expert can make this tricky.”
- The Workplace Learner’s Manifesto - Tom Spliglanin, 18 June 2012
“So stimulate us with authentic activities. Provide opportunities to collaborate and solve real problems. Support our quest for knowledge and wisdom at the time and place of need. Yes you can train us, but better you give us the tools, experiences, and guidance we need to perform better. And most importantly, support our informal professional development. It’s not just good for us, it’s good for our social workplace.”
- Self-Learning: The New Master’s Degree [Infographic] – Udemy Blog
- 15 secrets of the most successful self-learners, OnlineUniversities.com, 16 May 2012
“For many curious folks, their impassioned yearning to soak up as much of the world’s wonders as possible completely transcends the boundaries of a traditional classroom. Armed with an insatiable lust for knowledge, they set out to acquire it on their own terms, although a few pointers obviously can’t hurt before departure and landing! Not every possible technique will necessarily stick with all self-motivated learners, of course, but the only way to find out is to test them. Try some of the following and experiment with what works in a more independent educational setting.|
- What I’ve learned about learning – Leo Babauta, 4 May 2012
Here’s are two key lessons — both really the same lesson — I’ve learned about learning, in all my years of study and in trying to teach people:
- Almost everything I’ve learned, I didn’t learn in school; and
- Almost everything my students (and kids) have learned, they learned on their own
- Top 10 Highly-Desired Skills You Can Teach Yourself - Lifehacker
“On countless occasions, you’ve likely said to yourself “I wish I knew how to do ______.” Then, of course, life got in the way and you put it off until you could find the time. Maybe you wanted to become fluent in a language, learn a new instrument, start performing your house repairs, or a master a myriad of other skills. With the vast amount of knowledge online, you’re now your only excuse. Here are the top ten most highly desired skills that you can teach yourself—and should.”
- Emptying Your Cup: Unlearning to Learn - Taruna Goel, 24 May 2012
“Unlearning is this emptying of our cup. It is more difficult and uncomfortable than learning because we have to let go of knowledge that has served us well. In today’s rapidly changing environment, our success depends not on how quickly we learn but on how quickly we unlearn.”
“Casting a social media shadow by exposing your thoughts and ideas to scrutiny is anxiety producing, both for the organization and staff members. However, the potential benefits far outweigh the risks. We cannot be sure what we will encounter during our journey to integrate the social web into the work environment, but like the explorers of old, we can be sure that the monsters we imagined are far worse than the ones we actually face.”
- Learning Best When You Rest: Sleeping After Processing New Info Most Effective, Science Daily, 24 March 2012
“Nodding off in class may not be such a bad idea after all. New research from the University of Notre Dame shows that going to sleep shortly after learning new material is most beneficial for recall.”