Is self-directed learning right for you?

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If you are new to the Intercultural Open University Foundation (IOUF) community you may have heard that our degree programs are “self-directed.” That’s a term not all universities use and it’s one of the many aspects of our program that make us unique in the world

But what does it mean?

In our language, a self-directed degree means a learner carries considerable responsibility for developing and following their own intellectual exploration. Although they are mentored by a senior member of our faculty, they enjoy considerable freedom in their academic pursuits.

Each learner starts by creating an individualized curriculum of proficiency areas that are relevant to his or her chosen specializations. They then identify a research area and a plan for developing the skills needed to carry out the research.

In order to succeed at a self-directed learning program, a learner is expected to make careful and consistent use of journals that reflect the learning activities they have undertaken. Goal setting, planning and a pro-active approach to learning are also important, since a key tenet of self-directed learning is that learning can occur at any time, in any place and through any means.

The IOU Foundation encourages the “scholar-practitioner” model of learning where learners inquire about and reflect upon their own work and its social relevance. They are mentored by their faculty advisors to investigate important practical problems, to disseminate their research results to varied audiences, and to work with practitioners to implement and test research findings in their fields. At the same time, our learners perform important and socially relevant work as they undertake their studies and develop their professions.

Experience has shown that our program appeals to individuals who are highly responsible, generally creative, and very independent. It takes a fair bit of self-confidence and determination to direct one’s own learning program and in an IOUF PhD program, you don’t have someone standing over you calling your every move. But you are still fully accountable for the results of your academic efforts.

Self-directed learning may not work for everyone. Some people feel they need the external structure that outside expectations can provide and others find that the time and process management aspects of self-directed learning are difficult to maintain. Those who are comfortable with self-direction, however, such as the people who choose to complete their degree through the IOUF, appreciate the flexibility the method provides, and the independence it affords them. If you feel a self-directed post-graduate degree program would help you achieve the career and life goals you have set for yourself, then we invite you to connect with us to explore this option in more detail.  We’d love to help you make a difference in the world.

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