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The YouTube Guide to Self-Directed Learning

by Kelly Walsh on January 26, 2016



These Videos Explore Ideas and Techniques and Offer Real World Examples That can Help Inspire a Self-Directed Learning Mindset in Your Students

Just about anyone working in education sees Self-Directed Learning as a hugely desirable outcome. Like ‘Holy Grail’ desirable.

If we can get students to take greater ownership of their learning, we are achieving something so much more important than high test scores. We are making an impact. An inspiring goal for many educators is to light the spark that will motivate students to take charge of their learning, and leverage the amazing resources available to them today.

One great irony of today’s tech-rich student population is that while many have the information literally right at hand to self-teach themselves practically anything, too many of them would not think of supplementing their academic learning in this way.

This train of thought led me to spend some time exploring YouTube for videos about self-directed learning. The selection below is a small set of the many good videos available that focus on student motivation and self-directed learning, approaching these ideas from a variety of angles, providing concepts, terminology, techniques, and examples.

Self-Directed Learning

A quick little “primer”.

The Role of Teachers in Self-Directed Learning

Here we see how some teachers are changing their approach, to facilitate self-directed learning at one school.

Priming Students for Self-Directed Learning – Student Introductions

A look at one set of techniques used to get beginning college students to think more closely about what motivates them and what they are seeking from attending college.

Empowering students through self-directed projects: Jonathan Amory at TEDxYouth@JBMHS

This teacher explores a rich, self-directed course offered at a college-preparatory high school.

Technology Inspires Self-Directed Learning

“Students in the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) program, at Horace Mann Magnet Middle School, in Little Rock, Arkansas, connect with nature through projects that serve their community.”

The power of student-driven learning: Shelley Wright at TEDxWestVancouverED

Shelly Wright explains how she came to think that maybe students could “construct their learning” and what happened after she asked her students “if you could design school, what would it look like”?

Dispositions of a Self-directed Learner (part-4) – Attention Management

This video briefly explores the value of Mindful Learning and several related ideas that can play well into encouraging student motivation, which in turn inspires a self-directed learning mind set. While larger scale ideas like those shown in the previous two videos are very exciting, they are not practical for everyone. Adding tools like Mindful Learning to your Self-Directed learning tool box doesn’t cost a dime!

Helping Students Motivate Themselves

One last set of ideas to help motivate students down the road to self–directed learning. Larry Ferlazzo is a respected student motivation expert who has written several good books on the subject. In this video he examines a few ideas to encourage the intrinsic motivation that is an essential component of self-directed learning (check out this post about one of his books to learn more).


Of course, one can spend endless self-directed hours exploring these concepts further using the wealth of content online! Hopefully these videos got you thinking about techniques you can use in your classroom or courses.

If you’ve come across some other good related videos or resources, I hope you’ll share them in a comment. Thanks (and oh yeah, hope you don’t mind the tongue-in-cheek post title)!



Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, regularly running Flipped Class Workshops online. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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