What Are the Tools That Support Self-Directed Learning?
Very often, technology is the key to succeeding with asynchronous learning. Educators should have a platform where they can post lessons, and students should have a safe online location to host discussions, ask questions and find information.
“We were pretty much one-to-one before the pandemic, and we were using Google Classroom,” says Matt Renwick, principal of Mineral Point Elementary School in Wisconsin. The elementary students in his school work on projects during dedicated self-directed learning time and then share their work with teachers, peers and family. “In first grade, they create a project, and they hold it up and record themselves on video.”
Frequently with asynchronous learning, educators record videos that students can watch on their own time. Class time is subsequently used for discussion, deeper analysis and additional guidance from the teacher. To create instructional videos, educators should have high-quality cameras and microphones and a stable internet connection. Google Classroom and other learning management systems provide a secure location for hosting the videos.
Digital libraries and databases are also great tools for schools to build out as part of an asynchronous learning initiative. “A lot of students’ self-directed learning revolves around research, especially at the primary level when they’re researching a topic,” Renwick says. “They’ve been really smart about using e-books and digital texts.”
DIVE DEEPER: Digital resource libraries continue to engage K–12 students.
Data Analytics Tools Measure the Success of Self-Directed Learning
Schools that want to implement asynchronous options should start small to find out what works best for their classrooms.
“The idea originally came from Google, where employees have 20 percent of their time to just play with ideas,” Renwick says. “Start really small. Don’t worry about actually devoting 20 percent — one day a week — of your time.”
For younger students, such as Renwick’s elementary learners, he recommends implementing a short period of self-directed learning during the week, such as 30 minutes every Friday. For older students, educators can start off with a single lesson recorded and taught asynchronously before they jump into recording their entire curriculum.