Self-Guided Learning

Training for Today

A modern issue that trainers are facing is creating a digital context for your training, but many trainers want to move on from “conference room” training, and into a more comprehensive, self-guided way of learning. The benefits of supporting self-guided training are substantial; self-guided learning on the part of trainees is going to free up some time for trainers to act as mentors when trainees need real-world support.  

To help this process seem a little less complicated, Josh Bersin, author of The Disruption of Digital Technology, states that the key to understanding self-guided learning using technology is understanding that “digital learning is a way of learning, not a type of learning”. 

What's the Difference?

What makes self-guided learning different from traditional training environments is the use of technology to invert the learning process.  Rather than trainees learning the material and then applying it after being sent into real-world scenarios, self-guided training puts the learning material online and applies that material in a classroom setting.  In a self-guided setting, technology gives trainees direct access to all the material they’re going to need. Supporting the trainer is a key source of critical learning. However, the use of technology should not act as a replacement to real-world application of the material they are learning. 

How to Support Self-Guided Learning


The make or break element of an online course is how well planned it is.  Any confusion at all in an isolated digital landscape will negatively affect the training process.  Well-defined objectives, and a clear path to the end goals or assessments are what trainees in a self-guided training context need to be successful.


Generally, relevance is an important element of training.  Only including objectives and resources that are directly pertinent to your trainees’ goals will always be beneficial to them.  However, online environments make this even more true.  Training online is mostly self-motivated, so piling on objectives and resources may make a course more daunting.


When learning is online, and more responsibility falls on the trainees to learn the material, online material must be engaging.  Because the physical aspects of the trainer aren’t readily available to your trainees, you may need to seek out more engaging material to keep trainees motivated and attentive.  No matter the setting, engaging your trainees should be one of the highest priorities.

The concept of using technology as a support and creating solid digital training material may seem abstract if you don’t understand what strong digital training content looks like.  Just remember, digital training, just like any training, requires planning on the part of administrators and trainers.  The balance of creating solid online content and staying connected with your trainees will be a difficult one to maintain, but certainly a worthwhile one.

Written by: Maddie Walter

Content Strategist