The concept of autonomy is used in various aspects of life, and it can be used in many different contexts. When it comes to work, autonomy can mean having a certain degree of freedom to make decisions, but what meaning does it hold in a classroom or training context? Come along, we will find out down below. 

What Is an Autonomous Learner?

There are countless definitions of autonomous learning and autonomous learners. Many authors for years now have come up with different interpretations of these concepts. The one person who coined the term, Henri Holec, defined learner autonomy as the “learner’s ability to take charge of his or her own learning”. Based on this definition, we can conclude that an autonomous learner is someone who takes responsibility for their own learning, reflects upon the processes of their studying, and knows what strategies, actions, and techniques they can use to boost their learning. 

What Supports Learner Autonomy?

When it comes to supporting learner autonomy, online learning seems to be one of the learning platforms that encourages it the most. In fact, online learning is characterized by learning autonomy or self-learning, which is also why many choose to study online since it enables them to get an education at their own pace. If one is unable to become an autonomous learner, they probably can’t succeed in online learning. 

How do LMSs support autonomous learning?

A learning management system can be of aid when wanting to incorporate autonomous learning into your training strategy. Here are the ways how an LMS such as Kiwi can be of help.

LMSs are available at all times

Simply put, an LMS is available 24/7. It is easily accessible, and all one needs is a mobile device, tablet, or desktop. Thanks to this flexibility, learners can read and study anytime and anywhere. What’s best, learners won’t have to complete a course in one sitting. They can leave it anytime before completing and return to it whenever they feel like they’re ready to learn more.

LMSs are learner-friendly

One of the main ways LMSs make it easier for learners to become autonomous is through the simple way they’re designed. They are pretty simple to use, making sure the learners won’t waste their time trying to figure out how to use the LMS. Instead, they can get the most out of subjects they’re interested in. 

LMSs are self-directed 

LMSs are all about giving the learner the option of selecting the courses they wish to complete themselves. The LMSs help students become more autonomous by giving them the ability to choose the topics and subjects they want to get more familiar with. 

Characteristics of an Autonomous Learner

In his book Self-Direction for Lifelong Learning, Philip C. Candy claimed that there are approximately 100 competencies associated with autonomous learners. According to him, autonomous learners are:

  • Highly curious and motivated
  • Creative 
  • Self-sufficient
  • Knowledgeable
  • Reflective and self-aware
  • Interpersonally competent 
  • Flexible
  • Logical
  • Analytical
  • Can develop and use evaluation criteria
  • Venturesome
  • Responsible and persistent
  • Methodical and disciplined

Skills of an Autonomous Learner

There are a few skills that autonomous learners most definitely need to develop to succeed. We listed below a number of them. Let’s see what those are. 

Research skills

The ability of someone to search for, identify, collect, analyze, evaluate and interpret information that is highly relevant to the subject being studied makes the so-called research skills. As an autonomous learner, the chances are that you will develop these skills in a very consistent manner and quite quickly. 

However, this does not necessarily mean that you don’t already possess those skills. According to a study conducted by the Department of Arabic Language and Literature, there is a relationship between research skills and autonomous learning. In fact, having developed research skills helps in practicing independent learning. It can help with planning, monitoring, and evaluating their learning. 

Decision-making skills

This teacherless way of learning will contribute to developing yet another skill—this time, decision-making. Autonomous learning is almost synonymous with the liberty of making decisions on one’s own. So, in a way, intentionally or unintentionally, one will develop as every single decision will be made by you and for you. 

Revision skills

Sometimes, it can feel as though upon reading materials, one has understood everything and is ready to move on to other stuff. However, this isn’t always the case. That’s why learners need to go back to what they’ve read or written about a particular topic and subject. 

Benefits of Autonomy Learning

With autonomy learning come a few benefits. Are you curious about what those benefits are? Come along, then.

You set the pace

One of the main reasons why many might turn to autonomous learning is because they want to create a schedule of their own and not adjust to one arranged by someone else. The reasons why they might need a change in their schedule aren’t relevant; however, when they do so, they do it because they can set the pace of their learning. 

While this can sound like an advantage, it’s a double-edged sword. Yes, you can set the pace of your learning, but you are also the one responsible for completing all of your lessons and assignments on time. 

It isn’t location-constrained

Traditional education of brick and mortar might have many advantages, but flexibility isn’t one of them. This is where LMSs shine. One can learn from every part of the world, and anytime they deem right. The only things they need are a technological device and an internet connection. 

Not time-bound

We talked about how one can create their own schedule and follow a learning plan of their own. While conventional education certainly puts forward deadlines that one needs to meet, this isn’t the case with autonomy learning. Why is that, you might ask? Let us just tell you that you can extend or finish reading lists and assignments earlier, as long as you’re making the learning plans yourself. 

So, we’ve come to the end of this article with the hope that you got familiar with learner autonomy. There are many skills and benefits one is eligible for once they become autonomous learners. Want to experience them first-hand? If yes, we suggest you become an autonomous learner and see all those aspects we discussed. 

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