The Feasibility of Implementing Self-Managed Learning

Table of Content


In the past, employers were forced to make arrangements for programmes like workshops and seminars for the employees to enhance their skills. The workshops and seminars in most instances never brought any meaningful gain to the company since, the attendance of those workshops and seminars did not consider the interests and filed of training for the employees involved. This led to the emergence of self-managed learning system and programme for employees in a company. The report’s focus is on issues surrounding self-managed learning, its effects on the employers and employees and its desirability in the shipping industry.

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This report on the feasibility of implementing Self-managed Learning into an organization will provide the definition of self-managed learning, its relationship with the learning organization and professional development of employees. The report also provides an insight into the desirability of the self-managed learning in the maritime industry and the organization’s perception on the self managed learning system.

Definition of Self-Managed Learning (SML)
Self Managed Learning (SML) can be defined as a way or method of learning that  involves and lets the employees of a company manage their own learning. This system gives the employee the liberty to choose and take responsibility for decisions they make on what one learns, how the learning is done and where the learning will take place. The other fundamental aspect of learning that the employee takes responsibility for is the reason as to why they undertake a particular line of learning.

In the previous past, employers were burdened with the responsibility of deciding on what employees could learn, where they were to take learning and the time the learning is to be done. The employers majorly did this using seminars and workshops to provide learning for its employees. Previously, organizations were responsible for initiating the acquisition of knowledge, by scheduling regular seminars and workshops, where there employees would learn collectively (Brockbank, 2002, p.2).

The seminars and the workshops implied that the kind of learning information that was transmitted to the employees, were in many times irrelevant to the employees’ line of work (Cameron, 2005, p.1). Unlike the seminars and the workshops where the employees or learners were provided with specific syllabus or timetable to follow, the self-managed learning has no such stuff. This is due to the reason that individuals pick their own syllabus of interest and use their own timetable which they make for themselves. Self-managed learning offers an approach to both individuals and organizations which is related to issues of today and tomorrow (Cunningham, Bennett, & Dawes, 2000, p.19).

The relationship between self-managed learning, the learning organization, and continuing professional development
Self-managed learning, the learning organization, and the professional development of an employee are all greatly related. For an employee of an organization to be able to get involved in self-managed learning, the learning organization must provide and meet the exact requirements of an SML learner. When the learning organization provides a variety of choices in which a learner can choose from, the self-managed learning system is deemed to succeed. Since SML means that an individual learner is able to pick their own choice of study field and timetable, the learning organization must be able to provide those facilities. The learning organization must be willing and ready to accommodate the different choices of learning that the employees have.

The self-managed learning is also the best way that one is able to develop their professional skills to match their duties. Professional continuity is assured since the learner will only pursue the course work that he/she is qualified for. Since self-managed learning does not require one to do specific things over a specific period only, the learner can take their professional studies at their own pace and time. In addition, self learning provides an open door for one to pursue whatever they desire. It has to be noted that, self-managed learning involves the acquisition of knowledge and skills under the watch and supervision of a practitioners who are more experienced and conversant in the particular field of study (Cunningham, Bennett, & Dawes, 2000, p.35).

The above discussion reveals that the self-managed learning, the learning organization and continuing professional development are closely related.

The desirability or otherwise of self-managed learning in the shipping / maritime industry
Self-managed learning system is a tool that is highly desirable in the shipping/ maritime industry. A lot of skills and expertise is required which can help in improving the industry. The characteristics associated with the self-managed learning system makes it more desirable and appealing to the shipping industry. There have been great developments in the shipping industry which require employees in the shipping industry to update their skills. Most of the developments in the shipping industry have been brought about by use of technology. This implies that the employees require improving on their professional skills. Due to the tight schedules of work involved in the shipping industry, the self-managing learning system could serve as a saviour to the employees.

Under the self-managed learning, employees are able to take responsibility of their learning. This is due to the fact that, employees get to make choices on their own as to what they need to learn. The aspect of self-responsibility for their learning helps to enhance the carefulness and responsibility that the employees will make in performing their duties. Also the fact that the self-managed learning involves no fixed syllabus, the employees in the maritime industry are able to take up studies that are inspired by the real needs of the individual employees and the organization at large.

The employees in the maritime industry are enabled to undertake any course that is relevant to their work at the company. The self-managed learning also helps employees in acquiring the most latest and current professional education which are closely related to the issues affecting the company. Real and significant learning is provided in the self- managed learning which in turn ensures that the employees obtain only the best in improving their skills. The amount of time that is required to undertake the normal form of learning with fixed syllabus is quite a lot.

Through the use of self-managed learning, the shipping industry is saved a lot time that may have been wasted in taking learning course regularly. Works at the shipping industry do not have to stop due to learning of employees. Maritime industry requires a lot of work time but by use of the self-managed learning, more skills are obtained by employees even when they are still on the job.

Organisation’s approach to continuing professional development for staff
Any organization that values its employees must have an approach or plan that will help in continued professional development of its staffs.

 The organization has adopted the following approaches to help in continued professional development of its staffs:

In some companies, promotions and jobs are through corrupt ways. This implies that a lowly skilled employee, may be rewarded with a promotion to a higher position, at the expense of a highly skilled employee. Such unethical behavior discourages employees from furthering their skills and hence, shifts their focus towards, cementing their relations with the influential administrators, because that is the only way of advancing their career (Easterby-Smith, Crossan ; Nicolini, 2000, p. 783).

To avoid such situation and ensure that it helps in continued professional development of its employees, the organization has adopted the performance appraisals approach. The work of employees is analysed and graded by professional appraisers. Through the appraisals, the organization is able to determine which staffs need more professional training to enhance their skills. The appraisal reports also help the management of the organization in detecting staffs that are not professionally qualified and yet have high positions in the organization.

Another approach that the organization has applied to ensure continuing professional development for its staffs is through decision making involvement. By letting the staffs get involved in the organizations decision making process, the staffs are able to learn what areas in their profession they need to improve on. Through decision making involvement of staff, ideas are exchanged widely and this in turn helps the staffs gain new ideas which help them in improving on their professions.

Our organization has also created ways through which all staffs in the company have an easy and free access to learning opportunities. The organization has made installation of modern technology which in the present world is the largest avenue for learning opportunities. Free access to computers and internet connections has made it possible to share and gather information in the world. The staffs can gather and share learning information with their counterparts and the outside world (Winstanley, 2005, p.2) through features like facebook, twitter and other internet pages.

This technological use has also brought great improvement in the self-managed learning since many staffs are able to improve on their professions by online studying. The easy access of technology to the staffs has helped to ensure that the staffs in the organization are updated on the current developments in their field of training.

The other approach that our organization has used is the introduction and encouraging of the staffs to use the self-managed learning system. Self managed learning, requires a high level of discipline, because there is no one to remind the learner, what he/she should be doing at any given time (Abbott, 1992, p.50). It is therefore, recommended that every employee, who is interested in enrolling in self-managed learning program, be made to draw a plan (Beitler, 2005, p.1). The plan should revolve around realistic goals and will be reviewed by Human Resources Manager. Once the plan has been laid down, the learner should stick to it till the end.

Assessing the Organization’s Readiness to Embrace Self Managed Learning

The organization’s readiness in relation to embracing and implementing the self-managed learning system is largely affected by the employees. Due to the fact that some individual employees, may not be ready to embrace the self-managed learning scheme, due to psychological reasons and some maritime subject courses, may not be applicable to be taught through self-managed learning (Beitler, 2005, p.1.). Therefore, the following measures have to be undertaken before the implementation of self-managed learning in the company:

The introduction and implementation of the self-managed learning system is a huge form of financial investment in an organization for its employees. The organization requires a lot of finances which are to be used in the setup of the self-managed learning system. After the introduction and setup of the self-managed learning system, the organization needs to make necessary arrangements for its maintenance. This makes the system to become a financial risk to the company. Therefore, in readiness to embrace the self-managed learning system as part and parcel of the organization, the company must ensure availability of the funds for financing the project.

The Human Resources department is tasked with the effort of making sure that it explains what self-managed learning is all about. The staffs have to be well informed on the principles and benefits of the self-managed learning system before its installation. Without the basic facts on the self-managed learning system, it’s difficult for its smooth adoption into the organization to take place. An internal survey involving all the participating employees must be done with regard to their readiness and desire to undertake part in a self-managed learning scheme. This internal survey can be done based on the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (Guglielmino, 1978, p.1).

The self-managed learning system requires that appropriate course/ subject is to be determined. This determination of course/subject is done so that the applicable subjects for self-managed learning and learning materials are used. The courses and the learning materials are determined using Self Directed Learning checklist. The visions, missions, and objectives of the organization have to be put into great consideration when planning to install self-managed learning system. In addition, the employees must make a self-managed learning plan that they will be able to use and follow strictly during the implementation of the self-managed learning system.


In consideration of the above issues discussed above with relation to self-managed learning, it is highly advisable for organizations and companies at large to invest in their employees through the self-managed learning system. For the organization to embrace self-managed learning system, the greatest asset required is technological use. The organization must ensure that its multimedia computer appliances and internet facilities are upgraded.


Abbott, J. 1992. Assessing the appropriateness of self-managed learning. Journal of        Management Development .11: 50-60.

Beitler M (Dr.). 2005. Chapter 4: Self-Directed Learning and Learning Agreements

Brockbank, A.2002. Reflective learning in practice. Reflective learning in practice. Aldershot:   Gower.
Cameron, S. 2005. The business student’s handbook learning skills for study and employment / Sheila Cameron. 3rd ed. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Cunningham, I., Bennett, B., & Dawes, G. (2000). Self managed learning in action: putting       SML into practice. Aldershot, Hampshire, England, Gower

Easterby-Smith, M; M. Crossan and D. Nicolini, 2000. Organizational Learning: Debates           Past, Present and Future. Journal of Management Studies. 37(6): 783-796.

Guglielmino, Lucy M. (1978). Development of the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale       (Doctoral dissertation, University of Georgia, 1977). Dissertation Abstracts International, 1978, 38, 6467A.

Winstanley, D. 2005. Group dynamics and team working: Personal effectiveness : a guide to      action. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

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