Prompt: What keeps people from engaging in self-directed professional learning?
I'm intrigued by this question. Because we all engage in self-directed learning as adults. The explosion of Pinterest is just one example. One might argue about the rigor of what's "pinned" to boards in terms of learning. But clearly people search the web for information, share that information, remark on it, learn from it. So why not in education?
I think Karen was right on the mark in an earlier discussion thread when she said she believes there's a culture in education generally that devalues self-directed learning. I think the educational infrastructure is also set up to devalue self-directed learning by both teachers and students. Recently, I attended the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning conference in San Francisco where the focus was on recent research that falls under the heading of "Connected Learning" (see more about Connected Learning principles here).
I would say that one interesting aspect of Connected Learning principles, which Connie Yowell talks about in the video at the bottom of the page linked above, is the idea that the learner has been squeezed out of the educational calculus, with its focus on outcomes. I think, essentially, that what we're witnessing today - regarding why people shy away from self-directed professional learning - is the result so many years and even decades later of the birth of the standards-based movement. Which in the end is less about the individual student and more about outcomes.
To end on a hopeful note, I think p2puEDU - despite the apparent lack of consistent participant engagement - and social media networks of educators and intiatives like DML which is bringing like-minded educational groups together, like my own National Writing Project, are slowly changing the conversation AND the landscape. In the meantime, I know I need to take it upon myself to introduce as many of our colleagues as I can to self-directed learning opportunities like p2pU. And to make those invitations into these spaces as personal as possible. Because who doesn't like an invitation?