I went for a run the other day and decided to go off-road for a bit across some fields and a wooded area. It was great following other people’s paths and having freedom to go where others had set their way. I also has no idea where my final destination was, even though I knew the rough area I was in. I wasn’t prepared for it though and my pace was significantly affected for the mile or so on the trail.
That spur of the moment decision was both inspiring – I had the opportunity to investigate areas I hadn’t seen before – and a quick and simple learning experience. I had the wrong shoes on. My road shoes offered no grip on the muddy paths and I spent most of the time shuffling through leaves looking for more solid ground.
The learning point was about preparedness; it’s OK to self-determine what you want to do and where you want to go but you have to take responsibility for the preparation. If people are self-directing, they’ll expect those safety factors to be put in place beforehand.
If you’re thinking about allowing people to draw down their own learning resources, make sure people know whether they have complete freedom of choice or whether you’re building a safe space for them to learn with minimal preparation. The difference might be detrimental to the under prepared and enough to stop them wanting to be responsible for what, when and how they learn.