Advancing the Theory and Practice of Self-Determined Learning
Congratulations and thanks to the curators of this project, Lisa Marie Blaschke and Melanie Booth, for their efforts in getting this Community of Practice up and running. We think it’s a great opportunity for people to share and explore innovative ideas about learning and education.
And welcome to you, reader. If you are reading this message you have an interest in learning, maybe as a teacher or as a learner. Either way, we hope that you will find that heutagogy, or self-determined learning as it often called, gives you some new and practical ideas about how people can learn. It is also possible that you have read about or used heutagogical principles yourself and you will contribute what you’ve discovered through this site.
Our work started with a desire to give learners more control over their learning, so that it would be more meaningful to them. It had become increasingly obvious to us, as educators in the higher education system, that educational systems and processes were too teacher-centric and strangled learning rather than promoted it. Since then we’ve discovered the same problem in training situations.
The early results in our application of heutagogy with university students were amazing. The learners excelled, not only achieving academically, but becoming far more capable learners and highly motivated to pursue their learning. So, we started from a practical rather than a theoretical basis. In time we found ways of explaining why the approach worked well and why its benefits seemed to endure. In time our ideas were published, to a somewhat mixed reception. There were many people who saw this approach as being an ideal answer for many learners in the 21st century. Of course, with any new idea that doesn’t quite fit with accepted wisdom, there were those who found many reasons why it would not work.
But now, self-determined learning has caught on around the world, and the nay-sayers seem to have retreated into their 18th century ivory towers. As you will see from the people who subscribe to this site, there are heutagogy practitioners around the world. And they are not just followers, but active promoters and users of the approach. However, the most powerful proponent of the ideas of heutagogy are the learners themselves. They exhibit a real joy in their learning, and can see why it offers them so much more than the traditional forms of teaching.
It is no accident perhaps that a good proportion of, but by no means all, papers about heutagogy are related to e-learning. We live in a world where the internet and related technology has become a game changer in the way in which we access knowledge and skills, and learn. No longer is the learner dependent on a teacher. The only value in investing in an educational institution is for the purpose of credentialing.
It is a time for rethinking old and perhaps outdated models of how we think about education, training and learning. Heutagogy is one small contribution to this end.
We make no claims as to the universality of heutagogy, as obviously there are times when pedagogy and andragogy need emphasis. But we hope that you find the ideas exciting and stimulating, and that you decide to try the approach: we believe you will enjoy the experience, and want to share it with others. And, we hope that even more innovative approaches to education, training and learning will spring up, and be nurtured in this community of practice.
Stewart and Chris