The Role of Self-Directed Learning, Metacognition, and 21st-Century Skills in Online Learning

Feb 27 2023

Cognitive Science, Executive Functions, Online Learning

The study investigated the link between self-directed learning, metacognition, and 21st-century skills in light of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers and Students Both Struggled During Online Learning

The research highlights the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on teacher training with regard to online learning. Teachers and prospective teachers, who live in low socio-economic areas, struggled as much as their students to have access to technology. While access to technology is key to success in online learning, the pandemic also required technological and pedagogical planning adjustments. Readiness for online learning, 21st-century digital literacy skills, metacognition, and self-directed learning were all skills needed by teachers and students to successfully create teaching and learning environments in these extraordinary circumstances.

Skills Necessary for Success and Readiness in Online Learning

834 prospective teachers from a Turkish university were chosen, of those, 73% were female and 27% male. The average age of the participants was 22. The data was collected through an online survey that measured their ratings on scales for 21st-century skills, self-directed learning skills, metacognitive awareness, and readiness for online learning. Several tests were applied to measure the reliability and validity of the data from the survey.

The results indicated that possession of self-directed learning skills, metacognitive awareness, as well as 21st-century skills predicted the readiness for online learning. Therefore the hypothesis was supported that all three sets of skills are needed to successfully conduct online learning.

Learning Needs to be Flexible, Adaptive, and Thoughtful 

The link between self-directed learning skills, metacognition, and 21st-century skills can help to build and sustain motivation among students during online learning scenarios. Equally, the authors argued that learning in the 21st century ought to be flexible, adaptive, and thoughtful to allow for new learning opportunities, and provide the digital literacy and technology skills students and teachers need for life and their career. Consequently, training for prospective teachers should also integrate these skills to raise and improve teachers‘ readiness for online learning as it has become more common as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notable Quotes: 

“The development of information and communication technologies and the increase in virtual learning opportunities has led to a change in people’s understanding of learning.”

“Students’ ability to direct themselves in learning and to utilize learning technologies can affect student learning effectiveness.”

“…teachers who have not gained 21st century skills, metacognitive awareness, and self-directed skills will be unable to pass on these skills to their students. In this context, prospective teachers should be provided with competencies to raise and improve their level of readiness for online learning in the teacher training process.”

Personal Takeaway

I wholeheartedly agree that teachers ought to have skills that allow them to compete with the demands of online learning and the use of technology in the classroom and everyday life. The study confirms what my experience of teaching online was: metacognition, self-directed learning, and digital skills had to be taught to allow for students to successfully access and sustain learning during longer periods of online learning.—Frankie

Karatas, K., & Arpaci, I. (2021). The Role of Self-directed Learning, Metacognition, and 21st Century Skills Predicting the Readiness for Online Learning. Contemporary Educational Technology, 13(3), ep300.

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