Independent Learning

Autonomy, Control, and Meta-Cognition

Authored by: William Anderson

Handbook of Distance Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415897648
eBook ISBN: 9780203803738
Adobe ISBN: 9781136635571

10.4324/9780203803738.ch6

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Abstract

In reviewing the area of independent learning in distance education, the term “independence” is used initially because of its connection to the beginnings of the modern practice and study of distance education through Wedemeyer's (1971) work on independent learning. This review will pull together threads of discussion from several related areas, each of which contributes in its own way to our understanding of the ways in which learners are seen as independent. The fields of distance education and adult education, the field from which much of the early theoretical work in distance education arises, provide three dominant descriptors for this area: self-directed learning (SDL), autonomous learning, and independent learning. These descriptors are often used with a considerable degree of equivalence. Tight (1996), for instance, suggests that the concepts of independent and SDL are so closely linked that they are essentially synonymous, while Moore (1986), in describing one type of educational transaction, explained them by saying “This is autonomous, or self-directed learning” (p. 12). These areas and the various concepts that have coalesced around each in relation to distance education, form the basis of the literature from which this chapter draws.

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