Module 1: planning for learning at work: learner's workbook

2.3 Self-directed learning (SDL)

Page last updated: 2004

In lifelong learning, we have seen the importance of taking responsibility for our own professional development. In self-directed learning (SDL), learners are actively involved in critically analysing, reflecting on, and responding creatively to, their situations. Probably the most important skill for today's rapidly changing workforce is skills in self-reflection. The highly motivated, self-directed learner with skills in self-reflection can approach the workplace as a continual classroom from which to learn.

SDL can be described as a process in which learners:

  • take the initiative
  • use the support and collaboration of others
  • diagnose their learning needs
  • formulate relevant learning goals
  • identify human and material resources
  • choose and develop appropriate learning strategies
  • reflect on and evaluate their learning.
Of course, the transition to self-direction and self-management does not happen overnight. The journey towards self-direction will require a number of strategies. It will also require an understanding of the process of learning.