SELF-DIRECTED education is not a new concept. Historical figures — including Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Rene Descartes and Julius Caesar — owe much of their knowledge to self-study and being an autodidact.
Again, it’s educators in the higher education sector who play an important role in nurturing self-directed or independent learners.
For Malaysian educators, most will have to follow the instructions given by the Education Ministry and put up with monitoring by inspectorates and audi tors.
There is little that educators can do. Our education system uses the Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC, as a parcel to self-directed learning (SDL).
In primary and secondary schools, vLE Frog (Virtual Learning Environment) helps in SDL, while Moodle platform is used for tertiary learning.
Many people learn on their own since institutions offering formal education are rare or hardly affordable to all.
Gibbons (2002) defined SDL as the enhancement of knowledge, skill or accomplishment that learners opt for and bring about with their own efforts in any way, in any circumstance, at any time.
Self-directed learners take the initiative to know their learning needs and seek out the resources and methods that satisfy these needs.
The modern concept of self-directed learning involves strategies that aid the learning process and assess or evaluate the outcome.
But for those who still think that learning can happen only in classrooms, the world of self-learning can be of little use.
The trend for self and social learning has some scholars and analysts wondering if we are approaching the end of formal learning techniques and conventional teaching methods.
There will always be a need to train people to acquire first-time skills or to upgrade their skill set.
Learning and development professionals will increasingly consider the option of leaving some learning needs to other non-formal approaches.
But if people are to start learning by themselves, we first need to be sure that people are competent to learn by themselves.
Self-guided students have to have a definite idea of what they have to learn and where to find the learning material.
I had been trying out the PdPc approach (pengajaran dan pemudahcaraan , or teaching and facilitation).
It may be equivalent to the student-centred approach but my students prefer the teacher-centred approach.
Some students feel lost when looking for unrelated learning materials.
Even providing guidelines built into each step of learning, landmark checklists and tests don’t help.
This can be so demotivating that students may give up studying altogether.
Such students may need a teacher-centred approach.
Self-taught students who achieve the needed learning have to be skilled learners.
There are very few with such talent.
So who does self-directed online learning help?
It is participating students who reap the advantages and drawbacks.
But given the contributions of self-directed online learning to open education, it must be a “win” situation for learners.
The only one who loses is one does not adopt the right attitude to maintaining a sustainable level of self-motivation and discipline to see the end of the course.
Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa, Kuala Lumpur