Thoughts, Insights & Words of Wisdom

Self-directed learning has been around for a long time, but in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, it’s fast becoming the ‘go-to’ option to keep employees engaged and motivated whilst working remotely.

The entire landscape of the work environment has changed and different learning techniques are emerging to fit in with how people are going about their day-to-day routines.  All of a sudden we’re seeing tens of articles appearing on LinkedIn or online publications about self-directed learning.

In simple terms, self-directed learning gives learners a choice in what they want to learn or how they want to go about it.  But if you, your team or your entire company have been thrown into this new world of remote-working, you’ve probably not been given much instruction or even explanation of what this kind of learning entails.

So, here are 3 tips to bear in mind for successful self-directed learning:

1. Shift your thinking

You’re being asked to take responsibility for your own learning, so you’ve got to develop the mindset to become an effective learner.  Without this shift in thinking, you run the risk of failing or even not getting started in the first place.  Just like the self-discipline needed to be productive whilst working remotely, you’ve got to muster up the self-discipline to stick at it, even when the excitement of learning something new wanes. Training designers like me, don’t set out with the intention of boring you senseless (honest!) however there are bound to be some elements which you don’t find as interesting as others and this is when that shift in thinking will see you through.

2. Know your style

The whole premise of self-directed learning is that you, the learner, make choices about what and how you learn.  So rather than waiting for someone else to make the choices and/or decisions for you, lean in! Learning of any kind takes time and practice, so make it easier on yourself by making the right choices.  Start by figuring our your learning style – do you prefer to listen to a podcast (auditory), watch a video (visual), participate in groups/chat pods or a combination of all (kinaesthetic)?  When you know your style you will learn in the way that is best for you.

3. Be curious

The most successful learners are curious. They constantly ask “why?” in their quest and desire to learn more.  Whilst a  strong desire to learn is an important quality for a successful self-directed learner, curiosity is what keeps you motivated and engaged.  It’s easier when there’s a trainer in the room with your and your colleagues, their job is to keep the group motivated and engaged.  But when you’re at home, sitting at your kitchen table, it’s a lot more challenging.  See the opportunity as a positive learning journey, one where you not only have the map and the destination, but the option to take a different, more interesting route.

Have you used self-directed learning before? What’s worked well for you?

We would love to hear what your own challenges are and how we might be able to support you.  As a people development company we are always open to new ways of doing things and what we can do differently. For many, learning is challenging.  But it also offers lots of opportunities to reflect, do things differently and grow as a result.

Book in for a virtual coffee

We’ve always offered free strategy sessions, and will continue to do so, making more time available for you to book in for a virtual coffee.

You can do so here, or by getting in touch with our Head of Client Partnerships.


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If you want to find out more about our productivity work sessions, leadership development programmes or bite-size learning journeys you can email me directly or visit The Extraordinary Training Company website.  

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