Sunday, November 03, 2013

1. Identify and commit to learning a subject domain

Identifying and committing to learning a subject domain can begin in many ways. One way to start is with a single word or picture drawn in the middle of a page, the back of a napkin or in a blog or social media site. Once the learning has been initiated by the small event of writing a word or drawing a picture, it can grow and deepen by continuing your reading, researching, drawing, painting, playing with, and discussing the word or drawing as a concept. The fun begins as you continue your commitment and move into the next step of learning, which will deepen and provide insight into your approach to learning your chosen subject domain.

Begin it now!
Identifying and committing to your subject domain is not always an easy task. There are so many things to learn and filtering the choices to a focused subject which you are willing to commit a period of time learning can be difficult. This commitment is often influenced by your motivations behind wanting to learn the subject. And why people want to learn a subject often varies as much as there are different people learning subjects. Fortunately, there is no shortage of exceptional resources and people that can assist in focusing your domain of study. How, and why, you focus is a part of your committing to learning the subject. The focus may be due to a financial need, or the desire for change, or wanting to complete a level of study, to become familiar with a genre of music, or to learn a new cooking style, or commit to a graduate level of knowledge is a subject domain. Self- reflection and engaging others can assist greatly in the activities in identifying and committing to your domain of study. As you increase your self-determined learning you will find it is your self-reflection and personal network of people and learning objects than help in deepening your knowledge.

Do not hesitate to jump into any approach or method when developing your commitment to and finding the subject of your study. Do keep in mind, in the end, it is this level of commitment that will get you to completing your learning. And in most situations, this needs to be an internal commitment. It is more difficult for external motivations to help you get to completion of self-directed studies. 
On occasion  I remember a significant conversation when I was developing my ideas around completing an Open and Networked PhD and in being a self-determined learner. In particular, the idea of getting to finished takes a lot of effort and doing it without mentorship is near to impossible. This discussion was mostly about the importance of doing graduate level work at a traditional institution being the only way to complete graduate studies. I disagreed, but what became important is that I needed to be very committed to my chosen subject domain without any external motivation. I need to be committed to completion through mostly internal motivators.
This gets into thinking about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Where Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself. Where Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome, whether or not that activity is also intrinsically motivated. Focusing on the knowledge domains that you would be intrinsically motivated will go a long way to deepening your learning of most subjects. So it would make the most sense to choose subjects that you are intrinsically motivated.

When choosing a domain of study allow yourself to consider both large and small subject domains. The self-determined learner can pursue learning activities and journey's that are both large and small. The approach may differ due to amount of learning and length of of the commitment, but the amount of learning does not dictate the success a learner can achieve. Throughout this chapter we discuss approaches to self-determined learning and they should be considered a part of your learning toolkit and they can be used for both small and large learning endeavours.

When beginning a self-determined learning journey the concept of schedule changes from the traditional models of learning. Self-determined learning isn't about a schedule, other than a self-imposed schedule. Having to get things done within a semester, term or school year does not apply. It is about life-long learning and if it takes a lifetime to achieve your life learning goals that's the point. It may assist greatly in developing a schedule that would self-motivate, but it only has the follow what works best for the learner themselves. This self-determined schedule only adds to the importance of following your own learning schedule, path and motivation.

Related searches;
Autodidactism
Heutaogogy
Transformative Learning
What colour is your parachute?
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

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