What is Independent Learning?

During the initial meeting for my current MA Module, we were asked to write down a definition of what we believed ‘Independent Learning’ to be. Here is what I came up with…

Independent Learning is learning that is self-directed. The learning is defined, organised and completed by the learner. Educators (experts) may act as facilitators or guides. However, the learner is encouraged to plot their own path and to value their own research as well as input from peers on the same level as information and guidance that they may gain from teachers (experts).

Having just hosted #ukedchat where the topic was Independent Learning, it was clear that the 194 educators who joined in with the discussion all had different views on what IL is. As such I am under no illusion that my definition above is one of many interpretations.

In order to get a fuller understanding, I wish to complete a brief investigation and ask you to share your own definition of Independent Learning.

Do you agree with my definition? Would you add to it or change it in any way? Perhaps, you disagree with the way I’ve defined it, or see IL in a completely different way? Please comment below and share your definition of Independent Learning.

[#ukedchat] Can we really help our students to become independent learners or are there too many constraints?


I have the distinct pleasure of hosting #ukedchat this evening.

The poll is closed and the winning question is:

“Can we really help our students to become independent learners or are there too many constraints?”

In order to address this question effectively, I wish to begin by considering first what is meant by ‘Independent Learning’? What does an ‘independent learner’ look like? One of the strengths of #ukedchat is that the educators who get involved represent a diverse cross-section of the education landscape; from KS1 all the way up to HE. I’m sure that we will all have different perspectives on what an ‘independent learner’ is.

I then wish to address the winning question and consider if it is possible to help the students in our classrooms to become independent learners.

  • What are the constraints (if any) that get in the way of students’ becoming independent learners?
  • How can we as educators (and the students) overcome those constraints?
  • What skills do students need in order for them to take ownership of their learning and become effective independent learners?
  • What strategies do we use to teach and/or facilitate independent learning?

I hope that you will be able to join in with this evening’s discussion – proceedings get underway at 8pm on Twitter. If you’ve never taken part in #ukedchat before, there is advice here on the best ways to get started.

[Update: Saturday, 15 October] This was the 67th instalment of #ukedchat. You can read a summary of the discussion here and download a PDF archive of all the tweets here.


Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Thank you Steve, I was never fortunate enough to meet you but as my fingers tap away on a product you and your amazing team at Apple brought to the world, I can honestly say that I came to know you very well.

The elegance, precision and sheer wonder encapsulayed within every Apple product I have bought is a testament to the standards you set for yourself and those who were fortunate enough to work with you. Many articles will be written for months to come reflecting on your legacy. In no short measure though, each one will speak the truth when they innevitably conclude that you changed the world for the better.

Your vision, your courage, your unrelenting determination to keep changing the game was an inspiration to all of us.

Rest in peace Steve.