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Individual learning plans: Why create one?

17th Mar 2017
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Self-directed learning is a phrase that is being used more and more within the field of L&D. You may have heard your L&D department talking about it.

So what is self-directed learning and what does this mean for you?

It’s everywhere. It’s when you read a book, watch a video, ask someone how to do something, it’s when you learn from your mistakes. With so much opportunity online and the constant introduction of new technologies, you are learning all the time.

Because of this L&D departments are evolving to be more responsible for the governance of learning rather than the management of learning, resulting in a shift change whereby employees and individuals are becoming more responsible for their learning.

You’ve probably already seen this shift start to take on in the workplace, with communications about new learning approaches, new learning content and encouragement to get you thinking about your own learning plans.

Your L&D department are still an extremely important asset to the company, still there to expertly support and guide you along the way.

Why creating your own learning plan is so important?  

It’s all about your individual growth, what do you want to achieve personally and professionally through your learning? It’s more than what training can I book within my company to do my job better, it’s about the overall contribution to your overall life plan, happiness and wellbeing as an individual.

Liken it to planning your travels, what’s on your bucket list?  When do you want to achieve this by? What works for you in terms of travel or accommodation? What’s next on the list? These are your personal goals, things that complete you as a person.

At times, you’ll be able to plan the holiday/travel experience by yourselves but you’ll need the assistance of external help to support you in making the experience the best it can be.

The same can be applied for your own personal growth, learning and development. Your L&D department will be there when you need external support and help.

 How can you put together your own learning plan?

  • Start with why – what is it you want to learn and why? What’s your driver for persisting, is it to be happier at work, to earn more money, to change career? What outcome are you looking for?
  • Determine the gap – what skills, behaviour or knowledge do you currently have and what is the gap between what you want to have? For example, do you need to learn a language to gain a job transfer?
  • Set goals – no project plan would be complete without it. Begin with a SMART goal and work from there.
  • Plan your time – so you know what gap you need to close, so be realistic about the time you have to invest. Prepare for contingencies so that you are able to make a minimum
  • Seek the help of others – use your L&D, HR and managers for guidance and support, share your plans with peers or find an accountability partner to help you along
  • Rewards – keep your motivation levels up by rewarding yourself. Something inspirational for you, hobby related? A book, a facial, a ticket to a gig or sports event?
  • Review – on a regular basis allocate time for reviewing and reflection
  • Just do it – Nike have a point

Take control of your learning and speak to your HR or L&D team about any learning opportunities you still want to seize this year or plan for the future.

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By mikefu
10th Aug 2017 11:52

Hi Blake,

I have been following a self-learning plan since past one and a half year and I must say it is one of the best decision I have made.

I am reading at least one book per month and have subscribed to some good blogs to keep myself updated about my industry.

I am learning new skills that I believe will help me grow my business.

So far everything is going good and I have seen some positive impact on my business.

I run an education company known as Distance Education 360 where we promote distance education courses online.

I really find your advice helpful and I am sure it will help me improve my self-learning plan.

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By Aang
31st Jul 2018 15:46

Hi Blake,

I totally agree with you. Ours is a small organization. We run a Distance learning Blog which provide information on various professional courses.

Though our team is small right now. But each member of team is completely dedicated towards self learning and self improvement. Which indeed help our organization as whole.

We didn't have L&D department right now but we make sure that every member of our organization should get sufficient time to follow his self learning plan.

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