Back to class

The following post is from the social forum of my first Masters of Integrated Studies course, Self-Directed Behaviour 655.  It is an online, individualized study course that I began in February.

is there anybody out there?Well, it seems as thought I have found my way back into this class.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been in the class the whole time, doing readings, answering questions, taking quizzes and reading about many of your projects, but I have been off the forums, and have just found my way back.  If there are any of you who are lurking in the corners of the class, please come out and chat!  This is the difficult part of this style of learning for me.  It’s hard to see those fellow students sitting in the dark banging their heads against the wall.  This makes it easy to feel like you’re the only one.

So why have I not been in this class?  Why have I been absent from sharing my project with anyone?  I suppose I have a long list of reasons, like anyone else, from moving to another country to sharing a 2 sq. meter apartment with a single bed with my boyfriend, to any other number of excuses, but in the end, it all comes down to motivation.  I remember at the beginning of the course being overwhelmed by the sheer number of options for a project for this course.  Should I choose something I’ve always wanted to do?  Should I change something about myself, like some annoying habit or nervous tic?  Or should I conduct an interesting experiment?  What to choose?!  I had many projects worked out in my head, but none of them jumped at me and demanded “a strong yes” so I doubted.  Then I hid.

I hid until Bertrand Russell found me, pulled me out of the shadows, and insisted that “[my] way of living should spring from [my] own deep impulses” (Russell, 1930, p. 109).  To transform myself, I needed to look at what motivated me; I needed to understand my deep impulses, those little instructions spoken in a “still, small voice” (Watson and Tharp, 2007, p. 138).

During my preliminary research, I came across Garrison’s (1997) approach to a comprehensive model of self-directed learning, and was immediately drawn to the discussion of entering and task motivation.  Motivation!  That’s what I had been lacking in my project!  I rewrote my project proposal, outlining a self-directed learning project aimed at “becoming critically aware of what [had] been taken for granted about [my] own learning” as a “key to self-directedness” (Garrison, 1997, p. 14, original quote, Mezirow, 1985, p. 17).  Finally, my early frustrations with the course found a purpose.  As a “disorienting dilemma” (Boyer, Maher, and Kirkman, 2006, p. 4, original citation Mezirow, 1995, p. 50) is the first stage in a transformative learning experience, I constructed a project aimed at moving me through the typical stages of such an educational experience.

This post (as well as others to follow) is a part of my progression from disorienting dilemma to action.  In this series of posts I will reflect critically on my own feelings, beliefs and value judgments that support or negate my feelings of frustration with learning in an individualized online environment.  I will incorporate aspects of our readings that assist me in this critical reflection.  It is my hope that discussions on this subject with others in the class, as well as with individuals on my blog will center on exploring a new understanding of the aspects of this online course in self-directed behaviour that support a transformative learning experience.


Boyer, N. R., Maher, P. A., & Kirkman, S. (2006). Transformative Learning in Online Settings: The Use of Self-Direction, Metacognition and Collaborative Learning. Journal of Transformative Education, 4(4), 335-361.  Retrieved from

Garrison, D. R. (1997). Self-Directed Learning: Toward a Comprehensive Model. Adult Education Quarterly, 48(1), 18-33. Retrieved from

Russell, B. (1930). The Conquest of Happiness. New York, NY: Liveright.

Watson, D. L., & Tharp, R. G. (2007). Self-Directed Behaviour. Belmont, CA: Thompson.

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