Course Overview

Self-directed learning (SDL), where students take responsibility for their own learning, is an essential requirement for students within the 21st century context. This massive open online course (MOOC) provides a short introduction to SDL for faculty and facilitators in the higher education context. This MOOC covers the basic theoretical foundations of SDL. In addition, the typical characteristics of an SDL learner and the way in which a learner-centred and SDL-oriented learning context can be created are explored. On a more practical level, the MOOC focusses on the affordances of strategies such as cooperative learning, problem-based learning and play-based learning for SDL. Finally, the MOOC concludes with a section on the role of assessment to promote SDL throughout the learning process.

This MOOC entails a free, four-week course offered by the Commonwealth of Learning in collaboration with the Research Unit Self-Directed Learning from North-West University, South Africa and this is open to anyone, anywhere, and is mobile-friendly. The focus is specifically on faculty and facilitators in higher education institutions.


Learning Outcomes

After completion of this course, you are expected to be able to:

  • Explain SDL and the theoretical foundation that underpins SDL;
  • Create a learning environment that is conducive to the promotion of SDL;
  • Use strategies such as cooperative learning, problem-based learning, as well as play-based learning to foster SDL; and
  • Plan and implement assessment tasks to support the development of SDL

Week 1

  • Explore SDL definitions
  • Apply the SDL process
  • Explore the historical background of SDL
  • Explain the theoretical foundations of SDL
  • Identify the characteristics of a self-directed learner and evaluate your own SDL characteristics

Week 2

  • Explain the relevance of SDL for higher education
  • Discuss and compare different models and dimensions of SDL
  • Apply SDL models and dimensions in the design of learning environments

Week 3

  • Define the concepts of cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and play-based learning
  • Design a learning environment which includes an appropriate active teaching and learning strategy to promote SDL

Week 4

  • Discuss the role of assessment in SDL
  • Discuss the components of self-directed learning-oriented assessment
  • Plan and evaluate the use of cooperative learning-embedded assessment within higher education