This post describes one exercise that can be used with students as part of a module to train them in how to use Twitter, and why they might find it a useful tool.  The idea is part of a heutagogical approach to learning as described by Lisa Marie Blaschke at the RIDE 2013 conference on 1 November 2013. 


On Friday last week I attended the RIDE 2013 conference held at Senate House (University of London).  RIDE stands for research and innovation in distance education and e-learning, and was organised by the Centre for Distance Education/University of London International Programmes.  I was there primarily to learn more about current trends in learning and teaching especially in regards to online training and the use of social media.

Throughout the day various terms were used to describe approaches to teaching especially related to higher education and one of those was Heutagogy.


What is Heutagogy?

What is a Heutagogical Framework or approach I hear you ask?  That was certainly the question on my lips when Lisa Marie Blaschke (Program Director, Master of Distance Education and E-Learning at the University of Oldenburg) gave her keynote speech for this year’s RIDE conference on that very topic.

Heutagogy (obviously a play on the term pedagogy) refers to a form of teaching and learning based on the principle that students need to learn how to learn to be successful and that a fixed curriculum can be restrictive and demoralising.  In 2007 Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon stated that:

“Heutagogy is the study of self-determined learning and applies a holistic approach to developing learner capabilities with the learner serving as the major agent in their own learning, which occurs, as a result of personal experience”

As I understand it, the approach suggests that institutions need to be facilitators and the central cog in helping students to build, maintain, and make use of networks.  Teachers need to take a step back and allow students to follow their own routes and come to pieces of knowledge in their own time and through their own methodologies and experiences.  They learn, by working out how they learn and then use that knowledge to teach themselves and their peers.  There is a lot of reflection involved and a need to think through what it is you are doing and how you are going about it.   Heutagogy goes one step beyond self-directed learning – it is self-determined.


A convincing approach?

shutterstock_8364712[1]Whilst certain aspects of the heutagogical approach have its merits, I can’t say that I was entirely won over by the argument.  It is true that in my own research I follow the leads that interest me and that’s exciting.  It gives me motivation to continue the work and to learn more about the subject.  Over time I have become aware of how I learn and have adjusted my approach for what works for me (rather than what I’m told should work for me).

That said, I’m very much aware that if I always followed what interested me and focused only on a methodology or approach that was well-tread then I wouldn’t have half the skills or knowledge-base needed to do my job or to be a good researcher.  After a while I would be playing it safe and I wouldn’t know half the things I should know.  I suspect there would be a tendency to learn the things that come easily, and ignore anything that requires patience and stamina.

I can’t therefore say that I was entirely won over.  As one part of a larger programme of study heutagogy might be helpful, but I suspect that type of learning happens anyway to one degree or another as a natural part of study.

Lisa Marie Blaschke has provided her slide show on Slideshare.  The Heutagogy Community of Practice website is also useful for anyone wanting to know more about this particular approach to teaching and learning.  For more about the RIDE conference both past and present check out the Centre for Distance Education website.  


One thought on “Heutagogy, self-determined learning and social media

  1. Hi. Nice blog. Yes indeed, heutagogy is natural and that’s the main point. Kids know how to learn really well until they enter the education system. Then we use all sorts of processes that counter how our brain actually learns. Some of our recent papers book chapters and presentations more fully explore this. Let me know if you’d like to read more. I have a presentation on slideshare that looks at the neuroscience. It is a presentation at a NZ conference last year.

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