Approaches to self-managed learning: A reflective account
This report first notes how self-managed learning can enhance lifelong development by evaluating approaches to self-managed learning, ways in which lifelong learning in personal and professional contexts can be encouraged, and the benefits of self-managed learning to the individual and organisation. Thereafter, the report comments upon my own current skills and competencies. These are evaluated against professional standards and those of organisation objectives. In the third part of the report, I identify my own development needs and what additional activities need to be undertaken for me to meet them. Finally, a personal development plan outlining current and future needs is given.
Self-managed learning is, as Graves (2012) notes, a process by which individual people find different ways of learning things, whether it be within the organisation they are working for, or with reference to longer-term individual career developments goals. Thus, as Pedlar, Burgoyne and Boydell (2013) suggest, self-managed learning is also about the setting of goals through evaluating the purpose for learning and planning ways by which to achieve such goals. People learn new things using a plethora of different techniques which can be shaped, for example, by culture, behaviour, personality, and perceptions. Indeed, commenting further, Bjork, Dunlosky and Kornell (2013) assert that individuals can learn things not only in a formal educational class but also through friends, and newspapers. Thus, as Ho (2011) posits, self-managed learning gives people a chance to come up with their own strategy in learning. The following section outlines a series of different approaches to self-managed learning.
Approaches to self-managed learning
Individuals can learn through the research they are undertaking as part of their work or as part of an assignment that they have been issued by either the university or college they are studying at. In addition, people can learn different techniques for doing the research.
Seminars and conferences
People can learn through seminars and conferences, as noted by Collin and Hammond (2013). Seminars and conferences are an effective tool as they give people the opportunity to present their knowledge about something to other people who end up learning new things; thus, seminars and conferences, for example such as that held by the University of Odense in 2013 on the role of Gender in Mediaeval European Cities, are a dynamic learning environment. Further, seminars and conferences help people to become more confident in speaking in public and may also develop their presentation skills: transferrable skills that can be useful in a range of organisational settings – thereby empowering both the organisational and the individual.
There are, as Bourner (2011) notes, a range of different social networks including Facebook, Twitter, My Space, and so on, where people spend an increasing proportion of their time. Whilst logged onto such sites, people can be chatting with friends or learning new things. This is particularly the case if people share information and knowledge through bulletin boards and forums. People can also learn how social network owners such as Mark Zuckerberg he became successful; and using the information that they obtain, people can apply this knowledge to their own lives thereby find the means of succeeding in their own careers.
The internet is home to a vast amount of data. Specialist search sites such as Google Scholar are particularly useful for accessing academic journals and articles which are written by experts on a diverse range of subjects (Saba, 2012). At a more basic level, a general search of the internet allows people to access information written by different authors concerning subjects such as management studies, business, and risk management. Through accessing such data people can acquire the knowledge they need to be successful in the work place. Through self-managed learning, an individual such as myself can obtain experience on a range of divergent topics that can inform the way we think about the world – and, as future sections note, this has enabled personal development to occur in both private and professional contexts (de Bruijn and Leeman, 2011).
Ways in which lifelong learning in personal and professional contexts could be encouraged
Lifelong learning is, as Hermans, Kalz and Koper (2011) contend, all about continuous learning in a personal capacity and how this contributes to one’s professional context. Individuals may also undertake personal assessments as a means of lifelong learning, and a common way to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats in business is through the undertaking of a SWOT analysis (Coman and Ronen, 2009). As this is a personal reflection assignment, it is appropriate to note that my strengths are good learning skills, being ambitious, and being friendly, whilst weaknesses include the fact that sometimes I get stressed when I am tired. However, I am putting in place facilitators to mitigate against this weakness and am therefore trying to ensure that I get enough sleep. In addition, I am doing some physical exercise to helps minimise my stress. I am also setting myself ambitious goals with regards to further education but am conscious that there is a threat to all my plans – the recession, and a resultant lack of money.
By evaluating my personal strengths and weaknesses through a SWOT analysis, I have been able to use professional learning tools, and especially self-reflective learning and continuing professional development (CPD). Self-reflective learning is, as Boud (2013) observes, about trying to review some opinions, judgements, personal understanding and actions that people are willing to take in a proper way and be honest about it. Undertaking this analysis will help me to link my professional development to practical issues that I have experienced in my life both socially and academically.
Self-reflective learning enables one, as Boud (2013) maintains, to learn new skills at the workplace by developing personal skills through having work tasks and responsibilities assigned. While self-reflective learning reviews things, continuing professional development (CPD) combines approaches, ideas and techniques to help develop personal learning (Graves, 2013). Through undertaking such a review, I can link ideas together professionally and by and planning and evaluating my effective learning I can improve. Personal development needs and activities required to meet them.
As organisation requires an individual to have time management skills, leadership skills and IT skills (Davis, 2014). These are problems for me as noted by my SWOT analysis. In order to overcome these weaknesses, I have set myself goals of improving my abilities in all of these areas. This has involved engaging with training at my workplace, which has resulted in the setting out of tasks and taking part in leadership development training. As I face communication problems sometimes, I have tried to solve my weaknesses in this area by giving class presentations on a range of topics.
In order to improve my basic skills, I read more books and newspapers including the business pages of The Times, Financial Times, and the Telegraph. As a result of so doing, I have expanded my knowledge and this has helped me develop my communication skills. In addition, I have embarked upon a programme of strategic planning through reading the Harvard Business Review, and have, as a consequence, learnt how other organisation have improved performance in their organisations. These proactive steps have been further strengthened by the undertaking of personal development projects that have advanced my learning through researching what kinds of changes might happen in future years and how organisations evaluate threats posed politically, economically, socially, and technologically, also known as PEST analysis (Coman and Ronen, 2009).
Development opportunities to meet current and future needs for both personal and professional
At the moment I am still pursuing my Higher National Diploma in Business. My target is to complete all the assignments by the end of June so that my results and transcript could be used to enable me to enrol for the final year of a top up degree (BSc in Business). The time scale involved in this goal means that I will benefit from setting myself a clear goal plan (Coman and Ronen, 2009).
Opportunities are the chances that a person may have to develop themselves further in the future (Pedlar, 2009). From a personal perspective, the most important personal learning opportunity that I presently have is to continue with further education by joining the university for the third year degree top-up in Business. After successfully completing the top-up degree, I am planning to specialise in strategic management. Achievement of this career goal will require further additional training in strategic management so that I may maximise my future potential in this area. I also have the opportunity of doing a Masters in Strategic Management if I can find a university that will accept me.
Personal and professional development plan
As Bourner (2011) comments, a personal development plan is a way by which individuals, such as students or anyone else, can draw up a plan that will help them know where they are with reference to their careers and/or skills, and where they are heading in the future, both personally and professionally. Professional bodies try to encourage members to continue updating their records for professional development purposes. Personal and professional development plans require individuals, such as me, to have proper planning in place for future development; these need to be flexible due to job requirements and aspirations changing (Collin and Hammond, 2013). The following is one stage, for example, for the creation of a professional development plan:
Developing my curriculum vitae – this was the first stage of my knowing where I had reached in terms of my education and skills. This allows me to develop short-term objectives which focus on what I am doing now and how this fits into my wider programme of personal development.
Long-term objectives have, as a result of this process been set. I have set out my action plan with dates, showing what I want to achieve in five years’ time.
SWOT analysis has enabled me to monitor my strengths and weaknesses regularly and, as a result, I am trying to develop the areas where I have realised that I possess weaknesses. At the same time, this analysis is enabling me to develop other areas where I found that I already possess solid strengths or have uncovered additional opportunities.
As a piece of reflective writing, a number of conclusions can be drawn from the work that I have undertaken. Self-managed learning is not something easy, though some people tend to be rather passive and suggest that managing their own learning through self-managing learning is an old fashioned way of learning (Graves, 2013). The fact is that it is not true; the basic requirements needed to improve one’s life career and personally, is the setting of realistic goals and meeting them in a timely manner. Proper planning is put in place by making an action plan, monitoring it, setting the date for the attainment of targets, reviewing it regularly and keeping it up to date. By adopting this approach learners achieve their goals (Bjork, Dunlosky and Kornell, 2013). Individuals also need to understand the stages of a professional development plan so as to ensure that they have clear objectives of what they would like to achieve from self-managing learning.
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