I was assigned a self-directed learning prooject for one of my early doctoral classes. As funny as it sounds - an assigned self-directed project - it was a good experience.
I chose to learn how to design my business website. I spent weeks trying to learn code. Too hard. Trying to biuld a site with MS Office. Too ugly. Trying to use Dreamweaver. Too expensive. After all this time, looking at screens, googling for answers, reading FAQ's, watching tutorials, I produced a pretty crappy website.
When it came time to present our learning projects, I was upstaged by another classmate. He made an amazing website for his club. Pretty graphics, great leayout, clean lines. How did he do it? He wasn't a genius code monkey. We dind't spend more hours on the work than I did. The thing he did differently? He asked a friend. He looked to people he knew who knew how to make web pages and he asked for help.
It was a revelation to me. Self-directed learning didn't mean learning by yourself. It changed how I saw learning. Turns out, early reaserch in self-direceted learning found this to be true. Allen Tough pioneered research in self-directed learning in the late 1960's. He found that after deciding on something to learn, one of the next step that an adult learner takes is to look to who she knows who might be able to help her move forward in learning the new topic.
This realization helped move me to loook into social network analysis and learning, the root of my doctoral dissertation. It's also why my website keeps going through redesigns. I'm still trying to build it myself. But at least I am using a good service this time.
Photo from mutednaryan on Flickr.