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The Compass of an Independent Learner

An independent learner is a lifelong self-directed learner who retain the control of his compass. He resists to influencers, react moderately to short-term events, and keep his eyes fixed on his final objectives.

The Compass is Fragile and Precious

Back in sail long haul navigation, the compass was a fragile yet overly precious part of the boat.

It’s precious. When navigation let go the safety of following coastlines the only way to reach a precise objective was a compass and a map. The map, a piece of paper is a given when the traject starts. Every day the compass will allow the navigator to locate the ship on the map. Strong winds or tempest may affect the course of the ship. To find a way back to a trajectory leading to the desired destination, the compass is necessary. In Self-Directed learning coastal navigation consist in following educational curriculums, hiring a coach to supervise one’s progress.

It’s fragile. beyond breakage which is violent and evident, a compass is subject to influence. This is more tedious as it took hundred years to understand all the possible influences on a compass.

Influencers affect our compass

It could someone deliberately placing a magnet nearby to affect the direction. Plenty of people tend to use influence to promote their business. I make a difference between inspiring and influencing. Inspiring is showing a choice among others but letting the learner free to decide. Influencing is putting pressure even friendly or indirectly. Influencing usually comes with a system of ideas well tied together that tend to draw a reality already tainted by the desired conclusions.

If the magnet is placed, from day one, at 30° from the original north the navigator will feel the change inside his own body. The smart influencer will first place it at the north and then gradually move it toward his one goals.

Location and culture matter

Compass are influenced by location. Something I learned but makes perfect sense is that compasses are adjusted differently at manufacturing time if they are aimed to serve in Europe, North America or Australia. This makes sense in independent learning as well. Ambient culture, the tonality of language or work vicinage will impact your compass. In a compass, it’s not only the North which is affected but also the horizontal angle. This could go a far as causing more friction and having a less responsive compass.

Progress requires adaptation

Progress affect compasses. It seems counter-intuitive but it’s perfectly logic. First boats were made of wood and very much transparent to magnetic fields. As shipbuilding became more engineered more iron was used. First on the knees and eventually, this led to full steel hulls construction. Steel is prone to be magnetized and retaining memory of magnetic fields traversed. Now with the compass surrounded with metal, a corresponding evolution of the compass was needed. Initial configuration was not enough, it has to be dynamic. The compass ended up being isolated and placed between two iron spheres to balance influences.

We very much experience the same. With Social Media, our attention is constantly solicited. Our peers are themselves subject to influences or events (think about last events in Paris, or uproar with changes in Twitter). The density of messages lifting us or downing our motivation goes like ebb and flow. Not so long ago events were coming to us one after the other and with little amplification. A compass is used for long distance navigation and should be kept free from daily tendencies. This means that in many cases the slower we are to react, the better. The more pressure is put on us to react, the more important it is to take distance and avoid taking any decision. While taking positive decisions rarely hurts (joining a new group, a new course), negative decisions like giving up a course, quitting groups have an instant effect. It is becoming excessively important for independent learners to have a compass resistant to events, excitation, and fads.

Compass became GPS

Innovation revolutionized Compasses several times, exactly like learning is experiencing now. We had the gyroscopic compass, first promising, then deceiving. Electronic compass with electronic corrections included. Finally the solution used rocket science. We launched artificial satellites all around the planet to find our way at any time. The same will happen with learning. Semantic databases, Artificial Intelligence, and smart algorithms will help us to build a map of our knowledge, keep track of what we learn, where we are, where we should go. This is modern real learning and it is what Kneaver is about. It is rocket science applied to learning.

Kneaver loves Independent Learners

Independent learners are a special breed of self-directed learning learners. Their direction includes a high dose of critical thinking and self-regulation. They know their compass may be subject to various influence. They use advice, guidance, input but eventually always decide by themselves. They continuously hone their navigation skills and learning capabilities along the subjects they learn.

We expect Independent learners to be early adopters of Personal Kneaver. Are you an independent learner? We would love to hear from you.

Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons CC BY