The Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) defines self-directed learning as ‘teaching students how to learn for themselves . . . [where] learners take responsibility to set goals, access resources and choose strategies for learning’ (2016, para. 2). To support the shift towards a culture of self-directed learning (SDL), high school students are provided with many opportunities for SDL experiences such as three 70-minute blocks of non-contract time in school each week. McLoughlin & Lee (2010) suggest learning technologies in conjunction with appropriate strategies afford greater agency to the student by allowing autonomy, a key characteristic of SDL (Du Toit-Brits & Van Zyl, 2017) through, for example, the promotion of social and participatory learning experiences and the use of rich digital media. WAB is technology-rich school where students and faculty have access to a wide range of digital tools and systems, many of which could or have already been purposely configured to support self-directed learning experiences.
How, and to what extent, can digital tools support self-directed learning experiences in a high school?
- Insight into the characteristics and attitudes of a self-directed learner (Du Toit-Brits & Van Zyl, 2017).
- An understanding of the types of digital tools, in conjunction with appropriate strategies, that support self directed learning experiences (McLoughlin & Lee, 2010; Robertson, 2011; Song & Hill, 2007) leading to the creation of a SDL Digital Tools & Strategies Map.
- Exploration of what and how digital tools currently support students involved in SDL at WAB.
- Insight into the challenges and barriers faced by students in using digital tools to support SDL in general and specifically at WAB (Lee, Tsai, Chai, & Koh, 2014).
- Recommendations to promote the use of digital tools at WAB, and potentially for high schools in general, to support self-directed learning that may include new tools, coaching and training for teachers and students, repurposing existing tools, training guides.
Proposed Research Plan
|Aug 11||Submit case study proposal submission
Continue literature review/scan to define self-directed learning and the general features, skills and/or characteristics.
|Aug 20||Continue literature review/scan
Formulate draft of SDL definition and skills for SDL
Discuss with WAB curriculum leaders (f2f) and with PLN (online)
Refine SDL definition and skills.
|Participatory research may include: use of Twitter for discussion, posting of blog post for feedback from PLN, face-to-face interviews.|
|Aug 27||Create SDL Digital Tool & Strategies Map: Use secondary research and consult with PLN to create map of types of digital tools and strategies to support skills for SDL
Compile list of digital tools at WAB that support SDL Digital Tool & Strategies Map.
|Consult literature and PLN for SDL Digital Tool & Strategies Map.
At WAB: Interview(s) with eLearning team, IT support and other experts
|Sep 3||Conduct interviews with 3-4 students to confirm/test WAB digital tool kit and to add further suggestions from students.
Analyse data to create a survey
|Sep 10 – 17||Disseminate survey to student group and collect data||Student group TBD
|Sep 24||CHINA STUDIES WEEK – No students on campus|
|Oct 1 – 11||Analyse data, write up findings and after discussions with experts, determine the recommendations
Final edit and proofing of report
|Oct 11||Submit Case Study Report|
Du Toit-Brits, C., & Van Zyl, C.-M. (2017). Self-directed learning characteristics: making learning personal, empowering and successful. Africa Education Review, 1–20. http://doi.org/10.1080/18146627.2016.1267576
Lee, K., Tsai, P.-S., Chai, C. S., & Koh, J. H. L. (2014). Students’ perceptions of self-directed learning and collaborative learning with and without technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(5), 425–437. http://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12055
McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. W. (2010). Personalised and self-regulated learning in the Web2.0 era: International exemplars of innovative pedagogy using social software. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 28–43. http://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1100
Robertson, J. (2011). The educational affordances of blogs for self-directed learning. Computers and Education, 57(2), 1628–1644. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.03.003
Song, L., & Hill, J. R. (2007). A Conceptual Model for Understanding Self-Directed Learning in Online Environments. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 6(1), 27–42.
Western Academy of Beijing (Ed.). (2016). Targets. Retrieved August 10, 2017, from http://blogs.wab.edu/flow21/the-targets/
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