Self-Directed Learning Symposium participants contribute their thoughts on the components of a new badge.

What’s in a name? For the past couple of years, there has been one microcredential in our suite of skills yet to be piloted.  No one denies its importance, but it has been the most difficult to capture conceptually and express as a teachable skill–self-efficacy.  Is self-efficacy a skill, though?  We felt it was the best placeholder to help people understand the Lab believes there is an important interpersonal skill that has not been captured in our other 21st century skill digital badges.  Up until last week, we couldn’t quite put our finger on it.  We knew it needed a better name and that there had to be a body of work to support our thinking.  

Self-direction! Yes, maybe that’s it!  Last week, the Lab was invited to speak about our work on 21st century skills to a diverse group of educators at the 32nd annual International Society for Self-Directed Learning Symposium, and it became much clearer.

Malcolm Knowles, a leader in the field of self-directed learning describes “self-directed learning” to be, “a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating their learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.”

A decades-old body of research feels more relevant than ever as learners are able to (and in some cases expected to) continue to “skill up.” In a DIY learning ecosystem, self-direction is a needed skill, maybe even a “gateway skill” to the others.  With the assistance of a group of thought leaders, the Lab now has a clearer path to credentialing it!