5 Distinct Uses Of Self-Directed And Adaptive Learning In A Corporate Habitat

5 Distinct Uses Of Self-Directed And Adaptive Learning In A Corporate Habitat

Have you picked a new skill in the last years? Or studied a programming language on your own? In this article, I talk about the self-directed learning and its similarities with adaptive learning.

How To Use Self-Directed And Adaptive Learning In A Corporate Habitat: 5 Ways To Consider

People are enthralled by stories of individuals who renounced traditional education yet still become champions in their field. Bill Gates, Ellen DeGeneres, Anna Wintour, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison; none of them have a college degree, but they have achieved a level of success only a few can match. How did they do this? What is their secret?

In my previous article on “6 Benefits You Should Know About Adaptive Learning in Corporate Training“, I spoke about the overview of adaptive learning and its benefits for corporate learners. But, in this article, I would like to sketch the similarities between self-directed learning and adaptive learning. Are these two similar? Before we dig deep, let’s first understand what self-directed learning is.

Self-Directed Learning

Nowadays, self-directed learning is more of an organizational necessity. This is because of the constant need for re-skilling due to increased technological advancement. New knowledge hoards so quickly, and industries change swiftly that traditional learning styles and paths cannot keep the gait. Unless you had a degree in clay jewelry fad of Ancient Egypt, chances are your degree is outmoded. Nonetheless, some newly detected Bedouins will capsize the terracotta archetype.

So, What Exactly Is Self-Directed Learning?

Malcolm Knowles, an educator and chief for adult learning, has described self-directed learning as a process:

“in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.”

So, how does this ring a bell with another learning strategy? Don’t you think it is analogous to adaptive learning? Well, I think there is a fine line between adaptive learning and self-directed learning. I feel, self-directed learning is all about the learning context created by learners whereas adaptive learning is about the learning context the computer algorithms create. But the major fleck between the two learning methodologies, is that, they engage learners in learning through a growth mindset.

Adaptive learning framework is built upon confidence-based assessments. Let’s take a look at it next.

Confidence-Based Assessments

Learning through growth mindset involves confidence. The algorithms are created to test the current understanding of the learners and also their confidence of the subject by additionally qualifying the questions with confident/not confident choices.

Here is a course that has the confidence-based assessment and the associated remediation that is provided immediately after an incorrect answer.

Adaptive learning example

Let’s now have a look at the 5 distinct uses for corporate Learning and Development:

1. SMART Goal Setting

Adaptive and self-directed learning enable the employees to set Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-defined goals on their learning journey. These goals help employees to be constructive even in their off-productive hours. They give the ability to break down the learning material and give employees enough time to learn each chunk. Thus, it avoids ambiguous, amorphous, unrealistic, irrelevant, and delayed learning.

2. Flexible Learning Schedule

Most of the corporate training programs make use of limited resources and materials. This means, the training programs are sparse and scheduled in such a way that it disrupts the employees’ working schedule. Who wants to attend a training session in the middle of a major project-deadline?

Adaptive and self-directed learning legitimize employees with flexible learning schedules. Both the learning methodologies give the employees to choose their learning paths. They also provide them with digestible learning content which can be learned at their own pace. Thus, employees see training as an opportunity and not as a task to be completed.

3. Opportunity For Continuous Learning

Employees, nowadays, are expected to take charge of their own learning. This can be achieved through adaptive and self-directed learning. Both the methodologies provide the right learning processes and strategies to the employees to embark on their learning journey.

Adaptive and self-directed learning also support errors and mistakes. This, in turn, helps the employees gather the necessary evaluation, take time to reflect on them and track their progress effectively. This thereby encourages a growth mindset which in turn fuels continuous learning culture in the organization.

4. Create Your Own Motivation

A conventional method of training path gives employees a clear-cut motivation; to complete the training to be on the project. But in adaptive and self-directed learning, employees will create their own motivation as this encourages them to never stop learning.

Adaptive and self-directed learning uses the philosophy “the more I understand, the more I get excited about it”. Thereby, nourishing the internal motivation of employees.

5. Communicate Shared Organizational Objectives

Employers can support adaptive and self-directed learning by communicating the organizational needs and goals to the employees so that they can align their personal visions with these goals. The employee’s personal vision will act as an inception for them to lay out their work-related learning goals. By shackling employee’s learning goals with organizational vision, employees’ learning can be directed to business outcomes.


Self-directed and adaptive learning is a smart way for organizations to invest in enabling their workforce. They are one of the many strategies that are can be used the quench the contemporary learning needs of employees. They can foster a lifelong learning culture among the employees.

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