Self-Directed Learning

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Revision as of 08:03, 10 May 2022 by Nils.zimmermann (talk | contribs) (Learning Arrangements)
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Empowerment is not primarily focused on documented results, but rather a process of self-directed learning. The most positive results of an adult’s educational experience often do not come from schools, or from books. Autodidactic learning from life, defining priorities, and finding intuitive ways to succeed are as well crucial for gaining competences and knowledge. Progressive education experts realized, that these elements need to complete and complement the courses they offer. As well youth organizations or other institutions in the field of non-formal education emphasize on the importance of autodicactical approaches. Together all teaches, facilitators and structures involved in learning and education should collaborate in establishing good frameworks for self-directed learning.

Learning is affected by the amount of autonomy granted to the learners. Learning arrangements take place on a spectrum ranging from autodidactic to externally controlled learning. Due to the fact that empowerment should help teams to increase autonomy, we have to take into account, that autodidactic learning is supporting this goal better than external control.

Therefore facilitators have to find strategies to balance their desire for expected outcome and for control with the higher goal of the learner's responsibility and autonomy. Second, they should take care to address self-responsibility and to combine opportunities for active experimentation with opportunities for knwoledge acceleration and for reflection. [1]

Learning Arrangements


Externally Controlled

Learning Orientation

Focuses on the person learning

Focuses on the person teaching

What the person learning does

Learning by acting

Consuming learning person

Time and space restrictions for the person learning


Fixed times and learning places

Defining objectives and content

Freely determined by the person learning

Defined for the person learning

After Siebert (2006)[2]


  1. N. Zimmermann: Mentoring Handbook - Providing Systemic Support for Mentees and Their Projects; Berlin 2012; MitOst; ISBN 978-3-944012-00-1
  2. H. Siebert: Selbstgesteuertes Lernen und Lernbegleitung - Konstruktivistische Perspektiven; Augsburg 2006

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email:

Holistic Learning


Planning experiential, inspirational and participatory learning processes in non-formal education.


"Shifting learning to empowerment requires an alternative and cooperative understanding of learning and teaching."

Shifting learning to empowerment requires an alternative and cooperative understanding of learning and teaching.