Various terms are used to describe self-education. One such is heutagogy, coined in 2000 by Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon of Southern Cross University in Australia; others are self-directed learning and self-determined learning. In the heutagogy paradigm, a learner should be at the centre of his or her own learning.
Autodidacticism is sometimes a complement of modern education. As a complement to education, students would be encouraged to do more independent work. The Industrial Revolution created a new situation for self-directed learners.
Before the 20th century, only a small minority of people received an advanced academic education. As stated by Joseph Whitworth in his influential report on industry dated from 1853, literacy rates were higher in the United States. However, even in the US, most children were not completing high school. High school education was necessary to become a teacher. In modern times, a larger percentage of those completing high school also attended college, usually to pursue a professional degree, such as law or medicine, or a divinity degree.
For many professions or for personal knowledge, however, formal education is not so necessary today due to the easier availability of free information on the Internet. Whereas in the past, one of the main benefits of going to college was to gain access to their superior libraries, today access to facts and books is available online. Financial analyst and author Peter Schiff, for one, says, "Never before in history has it been so easy to be self-educated".