Self-determined learning: Heutagogy

I will admit it but I have only just come across these terms in recent months and they are really thought-provoking as I relate to much of the information I’ve read on both.  Some would say they are very similar, however, the concept originated with Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon who said this:

So, over a bottle of a nice crisp white wine one cold Canberra evening, Chris and I described the notion of self-determined learning that best described an extension to pedagogy and andragogy. Chris eventually came up with the term heutagogy, which is derived from the ancient Greek for ‘self’ with some adjustments and the ‘agogy’ added. Heutagogy is concerned with learner-centred learning that sees the learner as the major agent in their own learning, which occurs as a result of personal experiences. The teacher might think that he or she can control the learning experience but we think the teacher’s role is limited to the transfer of knowledge and skills.  As well as being an agent in their own learning, it is impossible to predict the extent and effect of bifurcation. Hence, the curriculum and learning activities may become increasingly irrelevant at any point in the so-called ‘learning process’. (1)

I discovered this term ‘heutagogy’ on an awesome wiki developed by Thomas Cochrane (see previous blog post).  He is an expert in the field of mLearning having conducted 35 projects in the area in recent years.  On his wiki he had this to say of his projects:

The focus of these mlearning projects has been on exploring the potential of mlearning as a catalyst for transforming pedagogy from instructivist lecturer-directed pedagogy to social constructivist pedagogy enabling student-generated content and student-generated contexts (heutagogy). (2)

To me, education should be all about students, all about their learning needs, strengths and goals and about providing them with the opportunities to guide their own learning, construct their own learning and generate meaningful content to reflect this.  Many terms have been coined to describe ways in which this occurs but I’m loving this newly found one a lot.  Other learning theories suggest that some teacher involvement is needed in learning whether it is predominantly teacher-centred or student-centred, however, this concept suggest that learners need no guiding construct in the form of a teacher but that they can self-determine and develop their own learning.  Learning when they like, how they like and in a way that most meets their needs.  I still have much to learn about this topic but I’m loving it so far.

I have reflected before on my own learning style and as I read through literature on heutagogy I’m struck by the fact that this is in my nature to learn this way.  I don’t want to necessarily be taught but I want to learn, to discover and to generate new content based on my experiences.  I go through stages I guess like anyone, where I might not be so driven to learn something new but a lot of the time I am highly self-determined to learn something new and apply it immediately, if only just to write about it on my blog.  This cements the new knowledge into my own memory system, allowing me to recall it later.

Here is a good presentation on heutagogy…

So, what can I do with the new-found knowledge of what heutagogy is?  I want to read more about it and think about how essentially teacher-centred online courses like that in Moodle can grow the opportunities for heutagogy.  MOOCs where all the information is there and it may be open all year round are I guess perhaps an example of heutagogy in action but I will definitely investigate further.

1.  Hase, Stewart; Kenyon, Chris, “Heutagogy: A Child of Complexity Theory“, Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, Volume 4 (2007), Number 1, pp. 111–118

2.  Contributions to are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License. Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License


4 thoughts on “Self-determined learning: Heutagogy

  1. Pingback: diigo bookmarks (weekly) « …bielosophical explorations…

  2. Hi Kristina, Stewart Hase here. Love your blog. If you’d like any of our other articles on heutagogy I’d be happy to send them to you. We also have a book coming out with Bloomsbury in 2013. Mostly, though, would like to hear more of your ideas about heutagogy and what it might mean for practice.



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