Independent learning requires students to take ownership of their learning pathway, pursue research, and recognise the most valuable educational material. The methodology doesn’t include any facilitator, and students do not depend on the learning materials provided to them. Instead, they curate their learning material.
The methodology empowers students to have complete control over their learning journey. It equips them with the information to know what works for them, their learning styles, and topics of interest. It is a skill that will serve students for a lifetime. Independent learning is also known as self–directed learning or Autonomous learning.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney.
An independent learner learns to set goals, make decisions, and choose how to achieve learning needs. They can take responsibility for curating a learning pathway and carrying out the required actions to fulfil the learning needs. Independent learners can track their progress toward achieving the learning goals and conduct self-assessments to analyse the learning outcomes.
Benefits of Independent Learning
Since the methodology requires students to take charge of their learning, the learner has all the tools necessary to set the learning journey in motion. The students explore and investigate new knowledge with less or no involvement of an instructor. Students practising self-directed learning conduct their research and ask questions rather than relying on the materials provided. This methodology has gained popularity with the advent of the internet and online learning, especially during the COVID pandemic. Independent learning has many benefits. Some of them include the following:
- Increased confidence, motivation and self-esteem among students.
- Enhanced student performance.
- Time management skills.
- Organisational skills
- Increased soft skills like collaboration, communication, and critical and creative thinking.
- The ability to work with versatility.
- Improved reading skills and advanced writing proficiency.
Here are a few videos to better understand the concept of Independent learning:
Independent Learning – What is it? Why is it important?
This video from the Independent learning centre will help you understand the concept and the qualities required to be a self-directed learner. The video will also inform you about what the learner acquires along the independent learning process and a few ways to get started.
Developing Independent Learners: Guiding Students to Be More Resourceful
This video from Edutopia highlights how students become classroom experts when you empower them with independent learning and how they learn to become resources for their peers in the classroom. It demonstrates kids collaborating, taking charge of their education, being inquisitive, finding a learning path, and helping their peers with the same.
How to Become an Independent Learner
“Anything that happens in life first happens in mind.”This video will educate you about the shift needed in the mindset one must develop before stepping into an independent learning approach. From asking questions to collaborating and being creative, the video is a step-by-step guide to watch before trying out the approach.
Seven Independent Learning Strategies
Encouraging students to take charge of their learning can be challenging. This video will equip you with seven useful strategies that are effective in starting with self-directed learning.
The Importance of Independent Learning in University
This video from Western University explains how most learning in university takes place beyond the classroom or formal instruction and how self-directed learning comes into play. Ryan Mackay from the university shares how independent earning is an essential skill so that students can learn by themselves effectively.
Teacher Talk: Independent learners in the classroom
“Teachers light the way, but they should not be the sole source of illumination in the classroom.’ Mary Soliman, a mathematics educator, argues that teachers must help students become independent learners. She deems self-directed learning as an essential skill that will help students manage their learning independently and be equipped to respond to challenges.
Self Directed, Peer-to-peer Learning Can Teach the World By Bodo Hoenen
Bodo Hoenen is an EdTech innovator creating self-schooling opportunities for children in poverty, disaster areas, conflict zones, and areas that restrict open education. He sends the message that children crave learning and, when given the opportunity, will seek out knowledge and skills by themselves. In this video, he describes his project to build algorithms that benefit from peer-to-peer learning and discovery to allow learning, regardless of the settings, technical knowledge or literacy. Hear him talk about the possibilities of a mix of technology and self-directed learning and how it can benefit children of all ages.