Another dot in the blogosphere?

What form of “SDL” via the SLS?

Posted on: August 21, 2017

Video source

Humour me. Pretend that you watched this video about the Student Learning Space (SLS) without knowing that it was about the SLS.

What makes it stand out from just about any other online schooling platform?

I do not ask the question sarcastically, but critically. My question comes from a place of earnestness and honesty. I ask because we should question buzzwords.

I ask because I want to know whether you see what I see. I see two main things.

First, without knowing that this was about the SLS, it could have been a pitch for any LMS or CMS. Providers of these platforms and services tout essentially the same things. I see no difference, except my next observation.

Second, one thing that is supposed to make the SLS stand out is its push to promote self-directed learning (SDL). The official statement and the video led with it.


While SDL might sound self-explanatory, it has different connotations. Like any other term, e.g., socio-emotional learning (SEL), it is important to have shared understandings of SDL.

If you explore the literature, specifically the work of Gibbons, you might discover that SDL is a continuum. Gibbons identifies true SDL as “Courses or programs in which students choose the outcomes, design their own activities and pursue them in their own way.” Does the SLS allow these?

If you organise your own unPD with Twitter, you might discover at least seven elements that characterise SDL at the independent learner end of the spectrum. Does the SLS enable these elements?

BTW, the #edsg folks who volunteered their time also shared their thoughts on SDL in 2014. I curated the conversation and resources with Storify. Like most LMS, the SLS will allow students to converse. Will it allow students to create and curate as a result of learning conversations?

So, what form of SDL will the SLS promote and nurture? I ask this knowing that the SLS is not just about the platform. The social and pedagogical aspects of its use help answer the question.

Will the SLS be as natural as Googling and looking for YouTube videos? Will it be a first response or a last resort? Will it be leveraged in skilfully or superficially? Will it be integrated seamlessly or stand out?

Answers to these questions lie in its use. The way it is used depends on its users. Its users need to know its expectations of use and to see new models of integration. Its teachers need professional development (PD), not just of technical know-how, but also social and pedagogical nous.

I have no doubt that teachers will get some training and PD. These will be met with the usual range of teacher responses. I wonder how many will depend on their own SDL to learn more about the SLS.

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4 Responses to "What form of “SDL” via the SLS?"

Gilbert Ng Ying Fong: Most of the time they’re talking about self-paced rather than self-directed per se via


Dr Ashley Tan: If that is the case, then the use of SDL is misleading and sets the wrong expectations. via


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