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FRI: The Road To Learning, A Toolkit To Aid Self-directed Learning (Claire Sellwood)

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Claire Sellwood
8 January 2019

The engineering and design sector is experiencing constant change with the implementation of new technology, changes in regulations and the increasing demands from clients. The role of Learning and Development teams is changing, they are no longer able to keep up with the demand for learning in an organisation using traditional methods. To meet these new challenges employees are expected to take ownership of their learning. They need to be able to diagnose their own learning needs, create their own learning goals, identify resources and implement learning strategies to achieve their goals (Daily et al. 2014). This is not a dissimilar situation to that of many other organisations across a variety of fields. In a 2018 study, 85.71 % of Learning and Development professionals in the financial and professional services sector thought that skills to help people manage their learning was extremely important but only 47.06 % thought that their organisation was currently using these skills (Freeman 2018).

Cercone (2008) suggests that learners may have the preference for self-directed learning however they may not have all the skills necessary for successful self-direction. Skills such as defining research questions, identifying and selecting appropriate resources, critically evaluate sources based on certain criteria and applying knowledge gained from sources are each seen as key skills required for self-directed learning (Ladell-Thomas, 2012). The lack of these skills could be a contributing factor to the disproportion between the importance and implementation of self-directed learning in the workplace. With such a diverse age group of employees we cannot expect everyone to have the same skills, many may have been out of education for many years and have either never learnt these skills or have forgotten them.

To improve self-directed learning in the workplace a new online resource, on the subject of management, is being developed with the aim to help employees to develop the skills that they need to become self-directed learners. To engage learners a gamification approach has been used. Learners are encouraged to participate in quests to build their skill levels in order gain the final status of informed manager. Some of the main features planned for the resource include an initial quest to encourage learners to source and evaluate resources. A shared online notebook will be provided for learners to share resources as well as evaluate resources suggested by others. Learners will be supported by guidance documents to help them to identify good sources of information and determine their own criteria for determining the quality of a resource. As learners progress through the quests they will be required to set their own learning goals based around the quest theme, emphasis will be on setting a goal which is personal to them. Throughout the learning journey there be the opportunity for learners to network with their peers, interact with a tutor, and share their learning experiences. 


Cercone, K. (2008) ‘Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design’, AACE Journal, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 137–159.

Daily, J. A., Landis, B. J. (2014) ‘The Journey to Becoming and Adult Learner From Dependent to Self-Directed’, Journal of the American College of Cardiology November 2014, vol. 64, no. 19, pp 2066-2068 [online] Accessed 5th January 2019

Freeman, C. (2018) ‘Empowering self-directed learners: Practical strategies and tools for L&D [online] Available at (Accessed 4th January 2019)

Laddell-Thomas, J. (2012), ‘Do-It-Yourself Information Literacy: Self-Directed Learning at a Distance’, Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, Vol. 6, no. 3-4, pp. 376-386

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