The self-learning materials are designed based on learning theories, to a large extent on the basis of an eclectic approach combining behaviouristic, cognitive, and constructivist learning theories. Without going into these theories, we list five characteristics of self-learning materials: self-explanatory, self-contained, self-directed, self-motivating, and self-evaluating.
Self-Learning Materials by Early Childhood Education Course
Self-Explanatory: The self-learning materials are written in a way that does not require any intermediary (teacher) to explain the content. This means, the content is written in simple language and in small chunks to help distance learners assimilate the Content by reading and working through the instructions. Thus, a teacher is built in, into the text. But, these are different from instructional manuals that come with electronic gadgets or home appliances.
Self-Contained: The self-learning materials are prepared in such a way that the distance learners normally do not require additional materials to learn the concepts/ subject matter. This is highly important for the distance learners, since they are isolated and dispersed; they may not have access to good libraries and learning resources. Therefore, it is necessary that the learning materials supplied to them are detailed and self-contained in nature. This is also related to the nature of the ‘curriculum’ in distance education, which is open, whereas in face-to-face education, the curriculum is hidden in the syllabus. An open curriculum envisages that the content is clearly detailed, leaving nothing to the imagination of the learner and interpretation. Also, if a course requires the use of external source materials, these are supplied along with the course.
Self-Directed: As distance learners study in isolation, it is important that the self-learning materials are designed in a way that provides necessary directions to the learners to study and progress. This is done in the self-learning materials by using a variety of techniques including the use of hints, notes, graphics (icons) and explicit directions on how to do, what to do and what is expected of the learner. The use of learning objectives, guidance in introduction, and a conversational style of writing text, instructions to do and how to answer the self-assessment questions are elements of self-direction that are used in self-learning materials to facilitate learning.
Self-Motivating: One of the major roles of a teacher in the face-to-face education system is to motivate and encourage the learners towards study and research. Teachers are role models and students generally try to emulate their teachers. They create interest and curiosity towards a subject. According to Preschool Teachers Training in distance learning materials, all these features should be included, and good self-learning material should arouse curiosity, and interest, encourage the learners towards in-depth study and critical thinking, motivate them to question and reflect on their own experiences and practices, and also provide reinforcement on learning progress
Self-Evaluating: It is important for the distance learners to know how they are progressing in their studies, particularly because they are quasi-permanently separated from the teachers and others in their peer group. The separation of teachers and learners inhibits two-way communication, and the learners may not get timely feedback or can’t even compare their performance with other peer group members self-learning materials should provide self-assessment questions and their personalized feedback to allow the students to evaluate themselves and learn from their action (correct/ incorrect).