When it comes to self-directed learning, there is a tendency to think that it is all or nothing, ie L&D are in total control of the individual’s learning process or they are not, when in fact there are a number of ways that L&D can support more autonomy in the workplace, as shown on the image below.
On the far left-hand side is the traditional role of L&D in designing courses for their people to achieve (ideally performance) goals that have been identified by managers – usually in the form of a one-size-fits-all course. However, a certain level of flexibility and autonomy can be achieved within such a managed learning environment by providing a collection (or a pathway) of resources that an individual can select from to achieve the defined goal in the way that best suits them. This could involve acquiring a new body of organisational knowledge or skills, or using the most appropriate resource to solve a work task (ie. performance support). These resources might be created internally or curated (from the Web).
One key way that individuals can be supported to become self-organised is by adopting a formal process of self-development whereby individuals document) their own professional goals (in alignment with organisational goals) and identify relevant sources to achieve them. This might be done from a collection of internally created or curated courses and resources or by promoting the wide range of opportunities on the Web. In the latter case individuals may then need help in developing the underpinning modern learning skills to benefit from them. An additional or alternative step might be to encourage some daily learning using informal and/or social Web sources (a process that doesn’t necessarily require to be formally documented although there would be an expectation that individuals might share some of the gems they find with others in their team.
Here the individual is in total control of their own self-improvement, learning and development. But even in this environment, L&D can provide a service to support individuals that need help through a bespoke Learning Concierge (or Help Desk) service, e.g. to identify sources to achieve professional goals or foster connections between individuals.
All these ways of promoting and supporting self-directed learning are described more fully in subsequent sections of this resource. But one question we need to address here is, as we move to a more self-directed learning environment, does the LMS – or any learning platform in fact – have a place in the modern workplace?