Collaboration important for SDL

Woodthorpe student Lavinia Fawkes says using self-directed learning was a great way to focus on priorities and invest time into areas where she needed to focus the most.

“Having time to come away from your lectures allowed you to either develop a deeper understanding of what you picked up in class, or more importantly re-learn and do activities-based on the information so that it was deeply set into your mind,” she says.

She also says it was great as a collaboration medium, allowing her to work with different students and teachers and this so often helped her learn more. Concepts she might not pick up easily other students would and vice versa. Learning along with classmates, and sharing ideas was one of the most important aspects to her learning journey, particularly in Year 12.

And as for how it has helped her in the real world, she has definite opinions on that.

“The idea of learning how to learn alone is one of the single most important aspects that has become of use to me now that I have entered the workforce,” she says. “Being put in difficult situations, you literally have to play around, find information and work out how to deal with issues and tasks yourself, rather than simply asking someone that is right there to show you. Obviously once you’ve done the research, it’s then far more embedded into your memory of exactly how to do it.

“The content you learn at school might not always be something you use in the workplace, but the means of finding out the information and the strategies you used to learn is what becomes so important when in the workplace. Strategies and traits such as self-discipline, integrity, persistence, intuition and being proactive are all so vital to be a successful self-directed learner, and this whole idea is mirrored within the workplace. So if you nail them at school, you’ll hit the ground running when you get to work.”

She said the biggest thing she noticed with SDL was the lack of direct access to teachers. Having to learn and take up the responsibility that her learning journey and her determination to succeed depended solely on her, came as a challenge.

“The teachers were there to teach you what you needed to know – it’s really whether you were willing to listen,” she says. “However, on a screen it’s so easy to choose not to. Therefore, it was a matter of deciding whether you wanted to succeed or fail. To begin with, I found it very difficult to take, particularly not having access to teachers, and not being able to ask questions right there and then. Campus visits were highly recommended and done whenever you wanted to, and teachers were amazing in their willingness to give extra time, answer emails late at night and give any advice and help they could if you were proactive enough to ask for it.”

And her advice would she give those who are starting out on their SDL journey?

“It’s really important to understand that your success in this learning journey is completely up to you, as while you have teachers looking after you, their direct focus isn’t on whether you are behaving and learning everything you need to know,” says Lavinia. “They are there to teach you what you need to know and it’s your responsibility to take advantage of it and use it to succeed.

“Another thing that I cannot recommend enough is making the most of your teachers. If you want to succeed by putting in all you have got, the teachers are not only willing to help out, but appreciate your dedication and determination to be the best you can be. As a result, they will sacrifice and put in those extras hours and days to help you reach your potential. I think there is a misconception when it comes to self-directed learning that the students shouldn’t seek help from the teachers as much, however it’s your job to use them to the best of your advantage.”