The Dangers of Self-Directed Learning

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washing-machine-380835_1280Do you want to learn how to change a tyre, fix a mobile phone, conduct an appraisal or interview?  Chances are when you are faced with a task which is unfamiliar to you, the first thing you will do is “google it” or search You Tube for an instructional video.

This form of self-directed learning is hugely popular – I think regardless of what you want to learn about you would be able to find some resources somewhere on the internet to help you.

The problem, of course, is how reliable, valid, accurate or useful these resources are.

A number of weeks ago I decided I MUST wash my venetian blinds.  Don’t ask me why.  It was just one of those things that I decided needed doing.  Having never done it before I took it upon myself to find out the easiest, most effective way to wash my blinds.

Site after site had variations of the same instructions:  they needed to be taken down, soaked in the bath, gently wiped then hung flat to dry.

Now, to be honest, that seemed like a fairly time consuming process and I figured there must be an easier or quicker way to get the job done, so I refined my search.  Lo-and-behold I discovered a You Tube video which (in 5 short mins) gave me a step-by-step process to wash my blinds in my washing machine with perfect results!  Brilliant.

I watched the video all the way to the end, making a note of each of the steps in preparation.  The video ended with the blinds in the washing machine, all neatly tied together inside a pillow slip getting lovely and clean.  The final still said “watch part 2 for the amazing results”.

So I search for part 2 of the video and it was no-where to be found.  Literally nowhere.  So I went back to my original search and altered it to “washing blinds in washing machine” and I discovered that washing your blinds in a machine cause them to crease when they dry out, leaving them slightly rumpled looking when you re-hang them.

The morale of this story is of course that the content you find online is only as good as the search that you do and the basic knowledge that you already have.

If you leave your learners entirely to their own devices there is a real danger that they will discover information which is inaccurate, out-of-date of or goes against your company procedures/policies.  This makes effective learning curation a vital process for any company to remove some of the guess-work for learners and to sign-post learners to high-quality, relevant information.

Share you examples of learning curation below!  :)



Founder of Zostera Ltd and The Trainers CPD Club. I've worked in L&D for over 16 years across both the public and private sectors.

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