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What is Self Managed Learning?

Self Managed Learning (SML) is about individuals managing their own learning. This includes people taking responsibility for decisions about: –

• what they learn

• how they learn

• when they learn

• where they learn

and most fundamentally

• why they learn.

All of this is carried out in the context of live organisational needs. But organisational needs cannot be met without individuals feeling a personal sense of commitment to what is required by the organisation. You can compel someone to sit in a classroom – but you can’t guarantee what they will learn. As the old saying goes:

“You can take a horse to water – but you can’t make it drink”.

Although everyone manages their own learning to some extent, it’s clear that just telling people to take charge of their own learning can be very inefficient. Research indicates that people who are effective at, for example, leading major Organisations, have managed their own learning very well throughout their careers. This does not mean, though, that they have been on more courses than others. Managing their own learning has meant the person using a wide range of opportunities for learning. These include: –

• learning from others around them

• travel

• reading

• secondments

• projects

• being coached/mentored.

The examples quoted are only a few of the many experiences we can use for learning. Self managing learners use a range to suit themselves. The problem is that unstructured, unplanned learning is very inefficient. Research on successful top managers and leaders shows that they set clear goals for themselves in relation to their learning. It is not purely random.