SDL Introduction

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The concept of Self-Directed learning (SDL) has been a topic of interest in the field of adult education and the literature continues to expand.  Donaghy (2005) points out that "self-directed learning has been one of the most widely studied topics within the field of adult education over the past three decades. It has gone from being a revelation for some to a topic heavily criticized by others" (p. vii).


This wiki will look briefly at the key people that have contributed to the development of SDL, the philosophical foundation that SDL is built upon, the historical timeline of SDL, emerging trends and themes relative to SDL, and a variety of multimedia related to SDL. In addition to the references for the quotes and claims in this wiki, there are additional resources (e.g., literature, websites, etc.) provided that are useful for learning about SDL.


What is Self Directed Learning (SDL)? 

Many have tried to define what SDL means and Brookfield (1986) claims that it has "been skewed by those who choose to define it as they wish" (p. 18).  Owen (2002) attributes the distortion of the definition to "haphazard nomenclature" (pg. 1). Self-direction in adult learning has been labeled as self-teaching, self-planned learning, inquiry method, independent learning, self-education, self-instruction, self-study, self-initiated learning, and autonomous learning (Owen, 2002).  All of these labels give the impression of learning in isolation, whereas Knowles (1975) pointed out that SDL usually takes place in association with various types of helpers such as teachers, tutors, mentors, and peers. Brockett and Hiemstra (1991) believe "it is crucial to recognize the social milieu in which such activity takes place" (p. 32).


How some have defined:





Misconceptions and Myths concerning SDL

We humans adopt methods and approaches that are most effective for our use. Then we often assume that if it works for us then it must be the best approach. However, as with any idea or concept (especially in education), one must not be quick to proclaim a 'one size fits all' approach. Conversely, some are resistant to adopt a good method because they do not fully understand the benefits.