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Published on October 21, 2019

13 Ways to Develop Self-Directed Learning and Learn Faster

13 Ways to Develop Self-Directed Learning and Learn Faster

Learning all alone is not a simple task. It takes trying out new study methods, knowing how you learn, and the motivation to keep doing that.

While this all sounds simple on paper, it’s important to note people’s overall mood towards learning. For many people, it’s been years since they last picked up a book, let alone a textbook. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people stopped learning seriously after university or college.

It’s good now that you are focusing on your learning anew. Because once you delve into what learning is, you’ll realize how school learning wasn’t the most optimal.

Take self-directed learning for example, there are so many ways to develop it and it’s one of the many effective learning methods around.

What Is Self-Directed Learning?

Self-directed learning at its core is taking learning into your own hands and growing from it. It’s a technique that’s drastically different from what’s taught in most schools. In other words, it’s a highly effective technique that anyone can use and would be great in a school setting.

In fact, there is one school in the US that can attest to that, Brisbane Independent School or BIS. Because the school wasn’t restricted by Federal Curriculums – which are lacklustre at best – they could adopt this form of learning.

This push for self-directed learning came from Jennifer Haynes, who started teaching at BIS in the 1990s. From there, the buzzword at the time evolved into a curriculum program that emphasizes on seven characteristics:

  • Playfulness
  • Autonomy
  • Internalized Evaluation
  • Openness to Experience
  • Intrinsic Motivation
  • Self Acceptance
  • Flexibility

From those seven characteristics, Haynes noted:

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“These characteristics are planned into our curriculum and each student is tracked on a continuum of development. It is wonderful to see how a student can go from needing a teacher to help them even come up with an idea for a project and then observe them in their final years developing planning and implementing a project… They learn how great it feels to develop their own idea and most importantly how to complete the task without anyone standing over them to get it done.”

Characteristics of a Self-Directed Learner

The students at BIS give a birds-eye view of some of the characteristics of a self-directed learner. Exploring further, we’ll find more. Especially when we consider the methods I mentioned above as ways of improving this learning style.

From those methods, many research papers have emerged over the years showing all kinds of positive side-effects to this method.

First, self-directed learning allows us to take the initiative of our own learning. One study noted that when this happens, people uncover and grow their grit, perseverance, and improve their intrinsic motivation and integrity.[1]

Second, students feel more empowered through self-learning. With programs moving to the internet,[2] we can see this as a form of self-directed learning. After all, you need to pace yourself when it comes to online courses.

Thirdly, people who take up self-directed learning develop other helpful skills. They’ll have an easier time setting goals and finding their own motivations. After all, these sorts of skills can apply to other areas outside of learning.

For example, we all need to set goals if we want to grow and enrich our business, career, and life. Learning how to set meaningful goals that we are excited to achieve means more than the act of setting a goal we don’t care about.

Some other characteristics of these learners are:

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  • Highly reflective – It takes a lot to know your interests and how to motivate yourself. As a result, many of these learners spend time in their heads evaluating and reflecting.
  • Self-efficient – From effective learning to effective motivation, these individuals become more efficient with their learning. This behavior can translate to other parts of their lives as they learn methods and strategies to better manage their lives, work, and more.
  • Supportive – Being this type of learner means you need to value collaboration and teamwork. This teaches you to seek help and guidance and to offer help when need be. They work better in a team dynamic now because of this.
  • A higher sense of responsibility – It’s obviously important to look after ourselves but often, we associate that with the physical side of things. This type of learning focuses on the mental side which is just as crucial. All in all, it helps us realize that we need to manage both sides of ourselves and we become more conscious of what we are putting in our heads.
  • More inquisitive – This teaching method encourages us to ask the question “why?” and to not settle with “I don’t know” as the answer. As a result, we learn to ask the more important and impactful questions that spark discussion, discovery, and learning.

What’s amazing about self-directed learning is that we can adopt it in our own lives. So how to become a self-directed learner?

How To Develop Self-Directed Learning

Well, developing this strategy isn’t that hard. For most people, it needs to be taught explicitly, but the following ways will help in growing and learning this strategy.

1. Identify Learning Goals

You can never achieve anything unless you’ve envisioned it. Identify what you wish to learn first.

2. Question the Significance

Make a habit of not taking everything at face value. Always have a cat-like curiosity and ask questions that make you care about the answer.

3. Find Challenges

Challenges are not unpleasant. They can be exciting and rewarding. Provided that the challenge is on a problem you care about solving.

4. Check Your Learning Process

Learning is better when you’ve set your own learning standards. Regardless of grades, measure your progress against personal learning goals.

5. Understand Your Learning Approach

There are tons of resources to help identify learning styles. But do you really know what your style is?

Take a moment to look at the format and medium of your learning approach and change it around from time to time. My other article can help you: How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

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6. Uncover the Background of a Topic

Get to know the topic you are learning by checking the background of the topic. Read various articles, or check the Wikipedia page on the topic.

7. Cultivate Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation

is motivation driven from internal rewards. It seems like a simple concept but many people struggle with it. Fortunately, it can be learned. One form of it is planning on sharing what you learned with others.

8. Making Something out of What You Learned

A song, a journal entry, a picture… These are examples of things that you can create from what you learned. Not only does this help solidify what you learn, but it gives you something to look forward to.

9. Leverage Time

Sometimes we get busy and don’t have time to learn. But that lack of time is more of a reason to leverage the time we do have.

Take your thirty-minute lunch breaks to eat and squeeze in a learning session. Do you go to the gym? Why not listen to a podcast or listen to an audiobook during the session?

10. Create a Topic List

Think of it as a to-do list of things you want to learn about. These can be broad topics or narrow ones. These lists can help you in creating goals and working towards them to achieve them.

11. Value Your Progress over Your Performance

We never truly stop learning. There will always be tiny bits of information or views we are exposed to every day. But when you want to actively learn, focus more on the stimulation of learning over your actual performance.

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12. Have Realistic Learning Goals

Self directed learning is built on a system that we create. To ensure the system is sound, you want to make sure everything is set within your own limits. The last thing you want is to feel discouraged from learning.

13. Build a Network of Learning Colleagues

Have a group of people that you can collaborate with and connect with. This group of people will push you to learn more and can give you an outlet for when you want to talk about what you’ve learned. Best of all this group can be either offline or online.

Final Thoughts

Self directed learning is the key to us having a more enriched learning experience. While everyone’s taste for learning has been diminished, it is due to an old and ineffective system — a system that doesn’t encourage deeper learning and doesn’t support students to learn more or set higher learning goals they care about. Such system focuses on the grades and performance of students which isn’t the point of learning.

Self-directed learning is so important because it teaches people to be more independent and responsible individuals. They develop skills to be internally motivated, self-sufficient, to ask meaningful and impactful questions, and more.

Now is the best time to get into self directed learning and to fall in love with learning again. After all, there is so much information at our fingertips that it’s worth exploring.

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: Amy Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

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Last Updated on November 14, 2019

10 Websites to Learn Something New in 30 Minutes a Day

10 Websites to Learn Something New in 30 Minutes a Day

Learning something new is always an exciting endeavour to commence. The problem is that most of us get wrapped up in busy distractions throughout the day that we can never find the time to learn the new skill we want.

What’s worse is that some of us spend hours learning this new skill only to give up after a few months, which is precious time that goes down the toilet.

Luckily, there’s a better solution.

Instead of using our time to sit through long lectures and lengthy video courses, we can take advantage of all the amazing websites that can help us learn something new in 30 minutes or less.

I’ve collected the best sites that teach a diversified list of topics and have decided to share them with you here today.

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1. Lynda

Estimated time: 20-30 mins
Topics: Business, marketing, design, software tools

Get access to 1,000s of courses with a 10-day free trial to develop your skills in business, photoshop, software, and much more.

2. Skillshare

Estimated time: 20-30 mins
Topics: Cooking, design, software tools, marketing, photography

Ten dollars per month gets you access to bite-sized, on-demand courses taught by leading experts like Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

3. Hackaday

Estimated time: 5 mins
Topics: Life hacks, productivity

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This website delivers tips to make your life better and more productive. Just 5 minutes a day is all you need to learn new life hacks to improve your lifestyle.

4. Codeacademy

Estimated time: 15-30 mins
Topics: Software development

A gamified approach to coding, Codeacademy helps anyone build a website through an interactive learning method. Learn any programming language from HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and more by actually building instead of spending your time on theory.

5. 7-min

Estimated time: 7 mins
Topics: Health & Fitness

Do you have just 7 minutes to get in shape? Most of us aren’t in the shape that we want to be because of the lack of time we have. Putting our workout apparel on, driving to the gym, and driving back can take up a lot of our time in themselves.

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In just 7 minutes, this website will go through dozens of routines to get you in shape and ready for the day ahead. Time is no longer an excuse!

6. Calm

Estimated time: 10 mins
Topics: Meditation

Get guided meditations right to your screen. With Calm, you can learn different types of meditation where a teacher can guide you step-by-step through the process, even if it’s your first time trying meditation.

7. Highbrow

Estimated time: 5 mins
Topics: Business, creative skills, design, history

Bite-sized email courses delivered to your inbox every morning to learn everything from film history, marketing, business, and more.

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8. Big Think

Estimated time: 10 mins
Topics: Technology, science, life

Learn from the world’s experts about scientific breakthroughs, revolutionary business concepts, and more in short, chunk-sized videos.

9. Khan Academy

Estimated time: 30 mins
Topics: Academics

Recognized by Bill Gates as one of the best teachers online, Salman Khan breaks down complicated subjects into simplified concepts to help you understand them in minutes, not weeks.

10. Rype

Estimated time: 15-30 mins
Topics: Foreign languages

Are you “too busy” to learn a language? Meet Rype, your personal trainer for languages. Get unlimited 1-on-1 private language lessons with professional teachers around the world. Each lesson is just 30 minutes, allowing you to fit learning a language into your busy lifestyle. You can try it free for 14-days and see for yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Alex Samuels via unsplash.com

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