5 Problems with Self-Directed Learning

5 Problems with Self-Directed Learning

Working in an office, you may be familiar with self-directed training. Self-directed learning (SDL) has been around for decades, providing personalized and flexible offline/ online learning routes based on the learner’s preferences and schedule. However, a lack of mentorship and professional support often leads to several challenges. 

Let’s explore problems with self directed learning in detail and present you with a well-structured alternative for the same.

What is Self-Directed Learning?

Self-directed learning means letting people decide what and how they want to learn. Instead of organizations dictating offline / online courses, it allows individuals to identify their own learning process, set goals, and manage their time.

It’s a formal theory of adult learning – explored most prominently by Malcolm Knowles in the 1980’s.

This approach treats students / employees as capable adults. It’s about giving learners control and making education more personal and relevant to their needs.

The Challenges of Self-Directed Learning: Exploring Disadvantages

Listed below are some of the key problems with self directed learning: 

1. Uncertainty in Choosing Learning Material

For newcomers to a subject, the first hurdle in self-directed learning is often the ambiguity of where to start. Deciding which documents to read or which courses to undertake can be daunting. With many self-directed training programs leaving individuals to determine their own learning needs and path, there’s a risk of investing time in irrelevant information while overlooking crucial concepts.

2. Time Constraints: A Significant Barrier

Research indicates that the most significant obstacle to self-directed learning is the pervasive issue of limited time. Amidst deadlines, meetings, and ongoing projects, dedicating time daily for independent learning becomes a challenge. Balancing professional responsibilities and personal development can be a formidable task.

3. The Variable Factor: Self-Motivation and Interest

The diversity of personality types within organizations plays a pivotal role in the success of self-directed learning. While some employees are inherently motivated and consistently seek skill enhancement, others may be proficient but lack the drive for continuous learning. The idealistic nature of self-directed learning strategies assumes universal enthusiasm, which may not align with the reality of varying levels of motivation and ambition.

4. Overwhelmed by Choices: The Paradox of Abundance

While a Learning Management System (LMS) stocked with diverse learning resources is advantageous, it can backfire if there is an excess of choices to support self-directed learning. When employees encounter hundreds of courses, videos, and training documents upon logging into the LMS, it can lead to overwhelming feelings and demotivation. The abundance of options may paradoxically showcase the vastness of what individuals do not know.

5. Selective Learning: The Path of Least Resistance

A notable drawback of self-directed learning is the tendency for individuals to focus on topics that align with their personal interests. Even among motivated learners, the preference is often towards subjects they find engaging. Drawing an analogy to education, someone passionate about sports is unlikely to dedicate time to learning about gardening solely for the sake of it. 

Similarly, at the workplace, individuals may limit their learning scope to areas of personal interest, potentially neglecting essential skills or knowledge outside their preferred domains.

While self-directed learning offers flexibility and autonomy, these disadvantages underscore the importance of addressing challenges to ensure its effectiveness in diverse organizational settings.

Mitigating the Problems With Self-Directed Learning: Step-by-Step

Given below are the self-directed learning limitations and strategies you can employ:

Limitations and Considerations for Learners/Employees Considerations for Administrators or Training Managers
1. Autonomy Boundaries: Self-directed learning isn’t a carte blanche; employees must adhere to set training requirements. 1. Continuous Content Maintenance: Maintain relevance and currency of training materials.
2. Motivation Check: Assess personal motivation to meet required training or employer expectations. 2. Balancing Structure and Freedom: Ensure self-directed training aligns with organizational goals.
3. Guidance Needs: Recognize when assistance is required in selecting suitable courses; course recommendations can be beneficial. 3. Support for Skills Gaps: Offer support when training or skills gaps are identified.
4. Training Plan Evaluation: Regularly review and adjust personal training plans to ensure achievable goals. 4. Active Involvement: Stay actively engaged with learners, providing direction, feedback, and follow-up.
5. Seeking Help: Encourage reaching out for assistance if sidetracked during training. 5. Progress Tracking: Monitor learner progress and measure outcomes from self-directed learning.

Understanding the “Why”

Encourage learners to grasp the purpose behind engaging in successful learning and development activities. Clarify the relevance and benefits, answering the crucial “What’s In It For Me?” question. Ensure they comprehend the value of their efforts.

From Just-in-Case to Just-in-Time Learning

Shift the focus from providing information just in case it might be useful to delivering knowledge at the exact point of need. Embrace a just-in-time experiential learning approach to eliminate wasteful practices and enhance efficiency in real-world applications.

Curating a Culture of Continuous Learning

Empower the Learning and Development (L&D) team to curate a diverse and accessible portfolio of high-quality, just-in-time learning opportunities. Bridge the gaps between existing knowledge and necessary skills, guiding learners with curated content that addresses the “why” behind each development opportunity.

Making Learning Meaningful and Accessible

Design learning opportunities for maximum impact by providing digestible, bite-sized content accessible anytime, anywhere. Foster engagement and connection through intuitive, personalized learning experiences. Embrace coaching conversations and in-the-moment feedback as valuable just-in-time development tools.

Evolving Organizational Culture

Encourage a culture that supports “learning on demand” by dismantling the traditional approach of learning for learning’s sake. Embrace agility and empower employees to develop a growth mindset, engaging with information precisely when they need it. Foster peer-to-peer learning as an underrated yet valuable resource in organizational development.

Onboard: A Comprehensive Solution for Learning and Change Management

In response to the challenges posed by self-directed learning, Onboard presents a three-step approach ensuring a comprehensive strategy for learning and development:

Preparing for ERP Change:

Onboard understands that preparation is essential. A bespoke Change Management Strategy is developed by undertaking an in-depth analysis of the organizational, project, and individual dimensions of ERP change. This approach ensures adequate funding and offers a route to success.

Adopting ERP Change:

By closely working with organizations, Onboard is developing a strategy to support change diffusion. The initiative’s uptake is also increased through engaging activities and human-centered solutions. Real-time tracking and performance measurement allow identifying strengths and opportunities; adaptive, workforce-oriented strategies can be implemented.

Maintaining ERP Change:

The last phase highlights the need for sustainable effects. The post project go-live support offered by Onboard ensures that businesses derive the intended benefits from their ERP investments. Growing successes, identifying growth areas, and embedding teams for sustained change Onboard become the trustworthy partner of long-term achievement.

Why Choose Onboard?

One significant feature that makes Onboard different is the availability of a wide range of flexible and cost-effective ERP training courses and change solutions. The ERP training courses are developed based on the individual client build, including custom business processes relevant to every client.

Vastly Experienced:

Onboard has an experienced team with a history of more than 750 projects involving training in various systems across different industries. This rich information guarantees that clients are served with proven methodologies and best practices.

Flexible Solutions:

With Onboard, clients have full control over key components of the process as they can build some modules on their premises and outsource others from Onboard. This flexibility allows organizations to adjust their training methods based on specific needs and preferences.

Quick Offboarding:

As to the offboarding policy, Onboard provides an unprecedented one that guarantees its team is ready for a reconnection whenever it fits the client’s best. This flexibility allows for smooth partnering and intervention when needed.

Project Team Time:

Working with Onboard is a strategic benefit because it frees up more time for the project team to concentrate on implementing this system. Accordingly, Onboard can handle the training and change management issues to enable the internal team to focus on essential system development initiatives.

Prepared Workforce:

The ultimate goal of Onboard is to support the delivery of a competent and ready workforce, which helps companies optimize their system investment. In other words, Onboard guarantees that employees have the skills and knowledge needed for a seamless transition to a new ERP system.

FAQs About Self-Directed Learning

Q1. How might accountability be an issue for self-directed learning?

Self-directed learning may present issues with accountability because individuals lack the discipline and motivation to complete established tasks without some external influence. First, unstructured timelines and assessments can cause procrastination and non-commitment.

Q2. What is the effect of information overload on the self-directed/ own learning process?

Learners in self-directed settings are easily overwhelmed with information overload. Without clear direction, individuals may struggle to understand much material content and focus on impotent learning outcomes.

Q3. What is the danger of ignoring skill gaps in the self-directed learning process?

In self-directed learning, one of the risks is that learners will address areas they are already mastering and miss critical skills gaps. This may hamper occupational development in general and the acquisition of fresh required skills.

Q4. How does a lack of standardized assessment affect the evaluation of self-directed learning programs?

The lack of uniform measures precludes employers from gauging exactly the true influence and efficacy that self-directed learning programs have. However, without credible results, there can be no real way to measure the ROI and overall success of the online learning environment or initiative.

Q5. What makes motivation and engagement low in self-directed learning settings?

Self-directed, learning environment does not have structured guidance and support. Hence, the motivation and engagement levels become lower. However, the learners may experience a sense of isolation or fail to receive the support necessary for commitment.

Q6. What are the differences between traditional training structures and self-directed learning in terms of their role?

The current training programs are based on a structured framework of schedules, assessments, and instructional guidance. In the case of self-directed learning, this structure is not always present because it affects general efficiency and results.

Q7. How does Onboard address the challenges of self-directed learning?

Onboard offers a comprehensive solution by providing a structured and customized approach to training. Their three-step process – Preparing, Adopting, and Maintaining ERP Change – addresses the challenges associated with self-directed learning, ensuring a holistic strategy for effective learning process and change management.

Q8. What makes Onboard’s training programs unique for organizations?

Onboard’s training programs are unique, designed for each client, and incorporate individual business processes. The flexibility, vast experience, and quick offboarding policy further distinguish Onboard’s offerings as tailored solutions for effective ERP learning and change management.

Q9. How does Onboard balance flexibility and structure in its training solutions?

Onboard allows clients to choose which training modules are developed in-house and which are outsourced to Onboard. This balance ensures that organizations can customize their training approach based on their unique requirements while benefiting from Onboard’s expertise.

Q10. What long-term support does Onboard offer after the go-live of an ERP project?

Onboard extends its support beyond the project’s go-live through the “Maintaining ERP Change” phase. This phase ensures businesses realize the full benefits of their ERP initiatives by celebrating successes, identifying improvement opportunities, and activating teams for sustained change.

Nicky Cortes
Nicky Cortes
Director of Training and Development

As Director of Training and Development, Nicky's role encompasses Trainer Management and the development of Onboard's strategic training solutions. After 25+ years as a trainer she has a wealth of information at her fingertips. She scopes complex requirements and devises training plans to roll-out ERP end user training. Nicky is able to analyse large organisations and user groups, presenting the information back to clients in a comprehensive and clear manner.

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