For many, self-directed learning is for learners who are self-contained and capable of working isolatedly on projects they are passionate about. As learning resources conveniently accessible online, self-directed learners are often viewed as those who autonomously and effectively identify what they need online and absorb the knowledge. However, new communication and information technologies offer not only static materials and resources, but also vibrant online conversations with peers. In fact, these online communities are invaluable for self-directed learners.
A conceptual framework of learning that captures best learning potentials and possibilities in the new media age will help us to understand and envision self-directed learning more thoroughly, and connected learning can be a useful one. Connected learning is “when someone is pursuing a personal interest with the support of peers, mentors and caring adults, and in ways that open up opportunities for them”. The “connected" in connected learning "is about human connection as well as tapping the power of connected technologies". Connected learning shares with SDL on the critical role of personal interests play in learning, but it also emphasizes the importance of communities and learning contexts.
In the report, “Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design
”, Mimi Ito
presents an inspiring case of a self-directed learner, SNAFU-DAE (screen name), who self-directed a new pathway to a creative career as a web comics artist. Such case illustrates that self-directed learning is not necessarily (and should not) be isolated, but can be (and should be) connected.
Image: via Connected Learning Alliance