Learner Autonomy: The Why And How Of Giving Learners Control Over Their Own Learning Journey

Learner Autonomy: Giving Control Over Learning
Summary: Learner autonomy helps enhance the learning strategy and acts as a driver of learner engagement. It equips learners to perform their roles better and organizations need to embrace it to keep pace with the changing corporate landscape.

Learner Autonomy

Do you remember how we all learned as children? Most often, we picked up things informally or learned through our own direction, especially in our formative years. Children develop cognitive skills like language, basic literacy and numeracy, a sense of humor, and so on mostly in a very informal environment. Why not use a similar approach when it comes to creating learning and development modules for workplace learning? Why not offer learners autonomy and control which can improve their learning experience and drive engagement?

Why Is Learner Autonomy Important?

Learner autonomy plays a seminal role in improving learning strategies and acts as a driver of learner engagement. By offering learners an autonomous learning approach, L&D can equip them to perform better professionally as well as in their personal lives. Autonomy is more about letting learners exercise their ability to take charge of their own learning needs, styles, and goals. There are a plethora of knowledge resources that are already available to learners, but it’s necessary to organize them and ensure that learners have easy access to this material at their point of need.

How Can An LMS Encourage Learner Autonomy

For millennial and Gen Z learners, who are digital natives, technology is the backbone of most of their professional and personal lives. Studies have shown that almost all Gen Z (95%) and millennial (93%) employees agree that they are willing to automate parts of their job. They are already proficient in using technology with ease and once they get to skip the constraints of constant instructor guidance, they can freely use the available tools and technologies to their maximum benefit.

Platforms like learning management systems (LMS) play a key role in enabling L&D teams to offer autonomy to learners across an organization. L&D teams can use an LMS to build personalized learning paths for learners and monitor their learning progress while assessing their performance. Since an LMS is location-agnostic in nature, it’s easy for learners to access learning that’s specially customized for them irrespective of their geographical locations.

Here are a few ways in which L&D teams can leverage an LMS to develop autonomy:

Making Any Time, Anywhere Learning Possible

In the era of remote working, when the expectations of the employee experience have changed, there’s an increasing need for always-on learning that is accessible from any device, at any time, anywhere. Such kind of learning is the cornerstone of an LMS. It is important that learning resources are available to learners in such a way that they can access them whenever and wherever they want or at the exact point of their need, on a device they prefer.

Creating Engaging Learning

While it may not be possible to make all learning material entertaining or exciting, it’s crucial to deploy content that leads to learner engagement. Elements like video play a key role in enhancing learner motivation and stimulation. Another important way of engaging learners is by leveraging LMS features like gamification that drive knowledge retention by making the learning process more fun and positively impacting learner behavior.

Encouraging User-Generated Content

Your LMS can encourage your employees to put their learning into practice by creating user-generated content. L&D teams can create new communities, add search tags, and send notifications to participants to kick-start conversations based on trending topics, users, and so on. An LMS also helps to capture the ubiquitous knowledge in an enterprise, going beyond the conventional view of courseware, assignments, and assessment.

Curating Relevant Content

At a time when there’s a massive amount of content available, content relevancy is a crucial part of any L&D strategy because it helps learners save time, adopt learning faster, boost engagement and productivity, and develop a sense of continuous learning. Your LMS platform needs to be set up in such a way that it provides the right courses and content to the right audience, based on their learning needs, roles, and aspirations.

Enabling Self-Paced Learning

An effective way of encouraging learner autonomy is by transferring the reins of learning to the hands of learners to give them the much-needed focus on their own learning. Learners learn better if they have flexibility over the learning experience, where they get to choose their own pace of learning along with the time and method. L&D teams can encourage learners to take the time required to learn while also respecting the busy workdays they have.

Opting For A User-Friendly LMS

Despite an LMS having a host of features enabling learner autonomy, if learners don’t find it easy to use, it will hardly benefit them in any way. It’s best to opt for an LMS that is user-friendly and helps put learners at the center of their learning journey. If learners cannot navigate the platform easily, it’s possible that they will not show a keenness to seek out learning content beyond what’s mandatory.

In Conclusion

In a rapidly changing workplace landscape, learner autonomy is imperative rather than a nice-to-have. Encouraging autonomy gives learners the confidence to take control of their own learning and contribute positively toward organizational development. It’s an integral part of progress, and organizations need to embrace it to keep pace with the change.

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