A Conceptual Model for Understanding Self-Directed Learning in Online Environments

April 30, 2007

Research indicates that online learning often situates control of implementation with the learner. Recently, scholars have turned attention to the importance of self-directed learning (SDL) skills for online learning environments. Existing frameworks for understanding SDL focus primarily on process and personal attributes in face-to-face settings. Some frameworks depict SDL as a process, focusing on learner autonomy in the learning processes; other frameworks emphasize personal attributes, focusing on learner’s capabilities of regulating the learning process. Yet, the level of self-direction needed may change in different contexts. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a research-based framework for understanding SDL in online learning contexts. Implications for future research and practice are provided at the end of the paper.

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