Flexible learning/old version
This is an old version of Flexible learning. Please do not edit this any more. It is kept for the edit history.
Flexible Learning is a set of educational philosophies and systems, concerned with providing learners with increased choice, convenience, and personalisation to suit the learner. In particular, flexible learning provides learners with choices about where, when, and how learning occurs. Wikipedia Dec 06
This page will assist you in understanding the principles of Flexible Learning by exploring related information, ideas and new practices in formal education. After reading through this information, and taking up opportunities for learning support it is hoped you will be able to apply flexible teaching and learning techniques in your own contexts.
This topic is also used in:
Learning support and accreditation
- Otago Polytechnic offers formal learning and acreditation services with their Designing for Flexible Learning Practice course.
- The Flexible Learning Practice weblog is used by Otago Polytechnic to advise learners in this subject. Feel free to follow along and make contact through that blog.
- The Flexible Learning Practice email list is available for people to ask questions, network and generally discuss this topic. At the moment the list is quiet, and is made up of people engaged in a teacher trainnig course at the Otago Polytecnic. The facilitators hope to grow the list into a more global membership with a wider range of skills and backgrounds.
Flexible Learning is a recent concept with many varying interpretations. No one interpretation is correct, leaving room for many interesting and useful ideas. This is one reason why the information resources used here are in a wiki format. It makes it easier for others to contribute and for contributors to keep the information up to date.
What is flexible learning?
- Flexible learning can be viewed as an incentive to reflect on teaching and learning environments, and develop new ways to engage with students. Flexible learning is not a goal in itself, the goal is to improve the learning experience and the learning outcomes. Flexible learning is a method by which educational goals can be achieved. This means that the decision to implement particular flexible learning strategies should be informed by educational values and goals and by specific educational contexts.
- Read more about flexible learning from the perspective of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework's Flexways site.
Why we need flexible learning
In adult education and training, flexible learning has alway been available. Most vocational education and training organisations have an early history providing after hours workshops and training sessions to work around normal working hours, and to not interrupt industry production schedules.
Today, there are increasing pressures on workers and industry that create demand for similar options for education and training. Many employers are asking for training to take place in the workplace. Others are preferring block training so as to more easily manage interruptions to normal opperations. Individuals who wish to further their personal development or skills and qualifications may prefer after hours, part time and/or distance learning options so as not to impact on their current employment and income status. Whatever the need, flexible learning opportunities are something that all education and training providers should keep in mind.
- Listen to Learning and teaching in the twenty-first century: new challenges, Gregory Whitby to hear a compelling arguement of why and how new technologies influence younger generations and what schools can do to meet the flexibility challenge.
Examples of Flexible Learning
- Strategies in Designing for eLearning - a guide put out by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework that has tips on a wide range of mostly online learning strategies and ideas.
- CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion is an online course offered by Harvard Law. They use a course blog in conjunction with a course wiki to deliver notes and video recorded lectures. They also use the 3D virtual world platform Second Life to facilitate communication.
- MIT Open Courseware offers free access to online learning resources
- OIL - online information literacy is a self-directed series of online modules.
- elearning guidelines and case studies in the New Zealand tertiary sector.
- Videos of teaching staff at Otago Polytechnic talking about their flexible learning opportunities.
- Please feel free to add additional examples here for review.
Issues with flexible learning
In this topic you will analyse and evaluate challenges that arise in the design of flexible learning environments.
There are many issues and consideration to do with flexible learning. From privacy and copyright, to access and usability. The range of issues are wide. Following are information resources that refer directly and indirectly to issues that affect flexible learning. You may be aware of others - please feel free to add them to this list. Focus on at least one of these issues and pursue research on it. Make notes to your weblog, add bookmarks to your resource list and finally, develop a teaching resource around your chosen issue. See Projects.
The modern Internet
Web 2.0 and socially constructed learning is an emergent theme in eLearning circles. Watch this short video that explains Web 2.0. What are the issues that this video highlights? How do they relate to Flexible Learning? Especially flexible learning that uses the Internet. Further reading related to web 2.0: Wikipedia entry, Networked learning,
Copyright in the Internet age is a perplexing issue. Watch these series of videos explaining copyright issues in terms of the Creative Commons. Creative Commons is a working solution to digital Copyright issues. What issues to do with Copyright do these videos talk about? How does copyright affect flexible learning? Further reading relating to copyright:
You are having trouble creating handouts using pictures and diagrams, and the formatting goes haywire, - this is an issue. So you need to find a solution. A short term solution may be to provide the students with hard copies of the handouts - of course this creates other issues or considerations such as the expense and resource sustainability, as well as how you will get the handouts to students studying off-campus. A longer term solution might be to better understand publishing software and formats. You might need to upgrade your skills and use a more advanced image editing programme. Further reading on software and formats:
teacher and learner workloads
Because flexible learning often entails self directed, or self paced learning teachers and learners can often lose sight of what would be a reasonable workload. Time management are important skills to have. Further reading on teacher and learner workloads:
Please add issue to do with flexible learning that you identify with. It might be the question of the practical nature of your subject area, it might be Internet bandwidth and digital divides, whatever the issue, please give a quick description and links out to further reading.
Flexible learning in educational organisations
In this topic you will explore and justify the strategies for the development of flexible learning environments.
Locate your educational organisations strategic plan. It is a document with mission statements, aims and objectives, and performance indicators. Highlight statements that refer to things related to flexible learning. Discuss these statements with your peer group and use them to help you develop your plan.
Planning for flexible teaching and learning
In this topic you will create and evaluate a plan for the implementation of a flexible learning experience.
Identify a course or unit within a course in your educational organisation that you think could develop flexible learning opportunities. Note down the basics to your idea in your blog and seek feedback from your colleagues and facilitators. After gaining this feedback and taking on suggestions, prepare a more complete project plan that includes aims and objectives, timelines and milestones, risks and risk responses, and of course a budget.
You might find it useful to take into account the following considerations:
Before you can design materials for flexibility in your courses, not only do you need to know who your learners are (Learner Profile), you also need to be clear about the achievements and characteristics they will leave with when they finish your course/programme (Graduate Profile). The issues and considerations associated with how your students learn will influence how you support them and the resources you will provide.
The following projects are designed for you to start learning about flexible learning for yourself, and contributing what you learn to the general pool of knowlege, skills and understandings on the topic.
20% For this assignment you will be asked to keep a record of the what, how and why of your learning and this will be ongoing throughout the course.
- To do this you will be asked to keep a written record as an online blog, and you may also like to keep pictorial, audio and video records as well.
- Consider whether you want to make your weblog private or public.
- The weblog will need to include references for material you have been reading and exploring, and evidence of how you have gone about planning for flexible learning in your workplace.
- Use the [Hegarty Reflective Framework and Template] as a guide to how you can record your learning.
- Write brief notes in del.ici.ous about the usefulness of each resource.
- Watch this video on how to use Del.icio.us
10% For this assignment you will need to develop a digital resource which shows others (students or colleagues) how to use software or technologies or other materials in an educational setting.
- You will need to outline and discuss your ideas with the class and with the facilitators.
- You will be assisted to scope and prepare a plan for creating the resource.
- The resource could be an audio recording with an expert, a slide presentation, a screen recording of a particular piece of computer software, a video on how to use some form of hardware, or a text-based handout.
- Announce and publish the resource through your web log.
Develop a flexible learning plan
50% All the other assignments lead into this final assignment which is a plan for how you intend to introduce flexibility into a course or programme in your work area. The facilitators will assist you with design ideas and will help you to develop your plan.
Use the [Flexible Learning Scope template] to record your initial design ideas. Your scope will need to include the following:
- A profile of student characteristics both at enrolment and on completion (learner profile and graduate profile)
- Issues and considerations and solutions to address these. For example, not all students will have access to broadband, therefore one solution may be to provide material online and on CDROM.
- Strategies and methods you intend to use to create a flexible learning experience. For example, students will be asked to take digital photos of plants in the Botanic Gardens and prepare an identification chart for an assessment. This will replace a formal lecture.
- Gather feedback from your peers on your draft flexible learning scope, and modify your scope as necessary.