Who am I as an online learner?

1 Identify skills for self-directed learning

Though all university courses ask students to apply independent learning strategies, online learning requires an even higher level of self-directed learning skill.

Many students have experience in teacher-directed classrooms.  In these classrooms, the teacher is the central figure, and the students take direction about what to learn directly from the instructor.  In these environments, students might spend time taking notes on an instructor’s lecture, and might focus much of their learning time on memorizing concepts in preparation for recalling them on an exam.

Online university courses are different.  The instructor is no longer the central figure in the learning environment.  You, the student, become the central actor in your own learning journey.  As you undertake this journey, you are supported by your community of fellow students. Your instructor serves as your guide, using their knowledge and experience to direct you to learning experiences that will lead you to your learning goals.

As you begin the workshop, reflect on your current self-directed learning skills.  The quiz below will help you to get started.  Complete the quiz before continuing on in the workshop below.  If you are unable to view or complete the quiz, please access this activity in an alternative format.


Image Credit: Rawia Inaim

Independent learning requires the following skills:

  • Defining your learning goal for your program, each course, and each assignment you complete.
  • Identifying the steps you must take to move towards your goal.  What content do you need to know? How will you learn it?
  • Choose strategies that will support your own learning.
  • Reach out for the support you need from your instructor, classmates, and university support services.

In the next section, you will explore the ways that a skill called metacognition supports you in becoming an independent learner.

Media Attributions

  • Independent Learning


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Learning to Learn Online Copyright © 2018 by Kwantlen Polytechnic University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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