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Independent learning is learning that is self-directed the learning is defined, organized and completed by the learner. Educators (experts) may act as facilitators or guides. However, the learner is encouraged to plot their own path and to value their own research as well as input from peers on the same level as information and guidance that they may gain form teachers (experts).
Independent learning can mean different things to different people, in different principles and in different cultures. Therefore, it is important that this pivotal concept is explained to students so that they know what is required of them within their new context and discipline. Independent learning can also be defined as a method and a philosophy of education in which a student acquires knowledge by his or her own efforts and develops the ability for inquiry and critical evaluation; it includes the freedom of choice in determining those objectives, or program and with the aid of a faculty design; it requires freedom of process to carry out the objectives and for the value of goals. This definition clearly places the responsibility for learning in higher education on students, aided by teaching staff and defined by the limits and objectives of the programme.
Being an independent learner
An independent learner is someone who has found out enough about their subject requirements and their lecturers’ expectations so that they can plan their study effectively. It doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help, or that you are expected to know what to do the whole time. It does mean that you can draw on criteria for your decision-making, like how much reading you should do for a topic; what questions to ask; whether to spend another hour studying before bed.
Basically, it suggests you can make decisions about what, when and how you study and that, little by little, you’ll become your own learning coach. students need to become creative, critical thinkers and we must transform from “imparter of knowledge” to facilitator of learning. How can students make it? In class, there should be enough room to make lots of mistakes and build resilience so that students can become skilled at how to learn anything they want to. In the 21st century constant change will be the norm and those who won’t be able to adapt to new situations will be in serious trouble! One of the most important skills that a learner must possess are good social skills .Learning is very much a social process. The stereotype image of a learner as the lone geek is far from the truth about how learning takes place. Good social community and participate in the active exchange of ideas. Collaboration with other learners becomes part of his learning style. Good social skills include the ability to respect is essential because otherwise a natural mental block will be erected in his mind that will prevent any learning from taking place. Proper respect also including respect for authoritative sources of knowledge. While this does not mean that he dismiss less authoritative sources of knowledge, it means simply that he is more discerning about quality that he is receiving from the source. It also serves as a mirror for him when it is his turn to transfer or share his knowledge with others. Those same qualities that make a source of knowledge authoritative can help him try to emulate those qualities in the manner that he conveys or shares his knowledge with others. good social skills will of course also help to open doors to new sources of knowledge too. Therefore, while it may sound like a contradiction, an independent learner is a social learner.
Another important skill is not to over rely on only one source of knowledge. Although it is important to be committed to a source of reliable knowledge, one must also be willing to expand one’s learning circle to include many other sources of knowledge. To source for other avenues of knowledge is not to be done in a haphazard manner. Again, a keen discernment of what is useful and important helps one not to go into information “black holes” where one because lost in information overload.
A good independent learner must also be a reflective learner. He is reflective with regards to what is learned, how it is learned and transmitted, what learning is important, and what learning is to be prioritized. All of these are important for him to be more effective in his learning .He will not be a robot. He will not be someone who is just being led blindly. He becomes clearer about the direction and needs of his learning.
Lastly, an independent learner must be able to apply his learning in different contexts. When he is able to do that, his learning has become real and meaningful. It would reflect a deeper understanding of what he has learnt because he would have to adapt what he has to learnt how he has learn to fit with different environments and its challenges. Adaptation such as this can only take place with deep understanding as opposed to superficial learning that often takes place in schools.
To become an independent learner you need to know which your preferred learning style is and be prepared to try different approaches. Independent learners are comfortable using the useful independent learning skills which are; Skimming, scanning, mind mapping. Skimming is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading. People often skim when they have lots material to read in a limited amount of time. Scanning is a technique you often use when looking up a word in the telephone book or dictionary. You search for key words or ideas, in most cases you know what you are looking for. Mind mapping is a diagram that shows how ideas are linked together. It starts in the middle with the key concepts being recorded.
Lastly, many students have trouble making the transition to the more independent learning required at university compared with previous study. University study requires students to take responsibility for their own learning, to be more self directed,to make decisions about what they will focus on and how much time they will spend on learning both inside and outside the classroom. Independent learning is important for success in the university because without a student been an independent learner,he wont know all the necessary skills a student has to acquire to become successful.
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