Many of history’s greatest scientists, inventors and artists were self-taught. Leonardo da Vinci taught himself engineering. The Wright brothers never graduated high school. Henry Ford never attended college. There are writers galore who were school dropouts.
Self-directed learning can be defined as: a learning strategy which allows learners to take charge of their own learning process (diagnose learning needs, identify learning goals, select learning strategies, and evaluate learning performances and outcomes).
“Self-paced” education or training is defined by the ability of learners to decide on the pace and timing of their learning experience. A self- paced program is a fully automated experience supplied via an online e-learning platform or website. It usually taps a mixture of methods and practices, including online tests, presentations, events, informational videos, diagrams, literature, and video talks.
Self-paced courses do not generally follow a particular schedule, but instead allow users to set their own pace by choosing from the various projects, course materials and training methods on offer. Learning in this way, the user is given optimal flexibility to incorporate their training into their different lives and schedules.
With rapid strides in technology, many people are learning online. Subjects range from business administration, technology, design, data science and more. Clearly, we are seeing an emergence of new learning habits that are driven by the desire to pick up practical skills outside the conventional classroom.
With the internet becoming a big giant school, where the students decide what to learn, where and when, the learning process has become more democratic than ever. However, as per a study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the completion rates for Learning Management Systems (LMS)-based courses is not more than 4 percent and the success of graduates is even lower.
The reasons are:
- Not knowing what to learn
Many self-directed training courses put the onus on the individual to figure out what they need to learn. But this means that they could potentially spend a lot of time learning irrelevant information while missing the most important concepts.
- Lack of time
Research shows that a lack of time is by far and away the greatest obstacle to self-directed learning. If you’ve got deadlines, meetings, and projects to complete, how many people are going to set aside time each day to learn new things?
- Self-motivation and interest
These low rates are credited mainly to the solitary experience that these online platforms offer. Studying in cyberspace can be lonely and isolating. That is why most learners lack the drive to continuously learn new techniques and the motivation to finish what they started. Even if there is progress, it is too insignificant to retain the learner or encourage him/her to come back and finish the course. Any self-paced activity demands a lot of self-discipline which many lack.
It’s challenging for students to move ahead once they are stuck on a concept, or trying to take time out to come back to the course, losing interest or due to changing priorities. Hence, they end up dropping out.
The lack of peer pressure, environment, lack of student support, poorly designed curriculum, inexperienced instructors and lack of a sense of loss (there’s nothing to lose if you quit) add to the long list of factors that contribute to the high percentage of drop-outs.
However,studies have shown that self-paced learning can lead to a significant improvement in memory performance and knowledge retention. Research conducted by Jonathan G. Tullis and Aaron S. Benjamin found that self-paced learners outperform those who spend precisely the same amount of time studying the same course materials. Their research (published in the Journal of Memory of Language) posited that this is because self-paced learning allows learners to distribute their time in a manner best suited to themselves and not to the class average.
Self-paced learning is actually a fantastic way for learners to study on their terms and at their own pace. It allows people to access course materials at their speed, meaning that they can focus on things that they find challenging and breeze past things that they already know.
This minimizes wasted time and promotes greater efficiency. Self-directed learning also ensures increased performance, as the learner can manage their education in a way which encourages independent thought and critical thinking.
Athena Global Education, a global education company dedicated to providing high quality education to students from around the world, has set a new benchmark in self paced learning. Its academic programs and professional certification courses are 100% online. Courses are delivered as a mix of online video lectures, essential reading materials, especially curated reference materials and additional reading for those who wish to develop a richer understanding of the subject.
Athena’s self-directed learning takes the pressure off performance and provides learners with a safe, supportive and individualized setting to learn on their terms. It uses technology to create an environment which encourages continuous learning at every stage of a person’s professional life. It boosts learner morale by assigning personal tutors to every student to track their academic progress and gently guide them at every step.
UniAthena seeks to utilize the huge benefit of self-directed learning, while avoiding the risks:
- Learners remain in control of what they learn and can read whenever they want
- They don’t get overwhelmed with information they don’t need
- If they lack knowledge in one area, it is easy for them to find a solution
- It takes very little time to consume the information
- It encourages them to learn important things even if they’re not naturally drawn to them
No pressure, more retention
At UniAthena, there’s no pressure to complete the assignments and learn at the same speed as others. The learner gets to choose when he/she wants to complete the course at their convenience.
Setting your own schedule
Self-paced learning at UniAthena enables learners to create their schedules. The learning format is byte-sized and one can learn anywhere anytime, be it a half-hour lunch break or ten minute commute to work. Each module of a program is divided into about 50 videos. Each video is nearly 10 minutes long and that can be squeezed within a hectic schedule. There are no long study sessions to tire out the learner. All its courses are tailored for the busy working professional. They do not need to leave their job but can learn side by side even in the midst of a hectic schedule.
Possibly less distraction
When learners create their learning schedules, they can study when they can focus best. They can pick when they have fewer interruptions from colleagues or other tasks.
In addition, the academic programs at uniAthena are accredited and widely recognized so that is another incentive for completing the programs. Its academic programs comprise Doctoral and Master Level Degrees and Diplomas from Guglielmo Marconi University, Italy and Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, Spain, accredited by the Ministries of Education of their respective countries. Professional certification programs are offered by Chartered Management Institute, UK and other reputed professional bodies like Cambridge International Qualifications, UK and Scottish Qualifications Authority, UK.
The challenge of getting students to complete online classes is a major focus at UniAthena. A well-designed comprehensive program, an experienced and engaging personal tutor, a high level of technical support, and a detailed pre-course orientation have gone a long way to make UniAthena stand out in the domain self-paced learning