maandag 3 oktober 2011

Flexible Learning

Before discussing anything else, it seems useful to establish what flexibility in education actually means.  Collis and Moonen (2001) describe flexibility in learning in terms of the choice the learners have about different aspects of their learning experiences. These different aspects represent different choices and therefore different types of flexible learning. These different types are the following;

Different types of flexibility (Collis & Moonen, 2001):
1.     Flexibility related to time
This type of flexibility implies that the learners have a choice in several issues related to time, such as the deadlines for the assignments, the examination moments, the schedule of the lectures and the time it will take to complete the course (influencing the pacing of study).
2.     Flexibility related to content
One could imagine that the learners would also have a choice in the content that will be treated during a certain course. Besides choosing the topics a course should treat, learners can also be given a choice in the sequence of the different parts, the learning materials that are used, the orientation of the course and the criteria for completing it.
3.     Flexibility related to entry requirements
For many courses, there are certain criteria a student has to meet to be able to follow it. These entry requirements or conditions for conditions for participation could, in a flexible learning environment, also be determined by the learners themselves.
4.     Flexibility related to instructional approach and resources
This type of flexibility regards the ‘practical’ aspects of a course, like the social organisation of learning, the language to be used in a course, the learning resources and the instructional organisation of learning.
5.     Flexibility related to delivery and logistics
Finally, the learners can also be offered a choice in the time and place of different aspects of a course, such as the contact with the instructor and other students, the methods and technologies used for making contact with them or asking for help and the delivery of course information and content.

As you can see there are a lot of different ways to apply flexible learning in education, Nowadays, however, the focus of many schools is mainly on distance learning, thus concerning the delivery and logistics. An example of this kind of flexible learning is described below.

Chapter 1 from
Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001, second printing 2002). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations.
London: Kogan Page.

An example of flexible learning:
The EchoSystem (formerly Lectopia) is a technology that allows schools to record lectures, in both video and audio, including the presentation materials. This allows students to access the content of the lectures any time or at any place they want.

The company that provides this form of flexible learning, describes the product as follows;
“In a world where they can retrieve virtually any music, image, or video with a few keystrokes, students don’t just want on-demand learning, they expect it. The EchoSystem enables schools of any size to meet that need, capturing lectures—whether through a Podcast or rich media video—for anytime, anywhere playback. See how leading institutions capture student satisfaction when they capture classroom content.”

An example of the EchoSystem lectures can be found through the following link;

Although it might seem practical and useful for students to be able to access the content of lectures on demand, there are also some issues when implementing a so-called Web-Based Lecture Technology. The article of Preston et al. (2010) suggests that, while many academics recognise the changing nature and needs of their students and have introduced WBLT as a consequence, many have not reconceptualised their curriculum and its delivery to meet these changing circumstances. This article can be accessed through the following link;   

1 opmerking:

  1. Thanks for the flexibility overview! What do you think about these options? Should they be implemented in practice? I would like to read your opinion in these posts, not just the opinions of others ;-)

    Thanks for the link to the EchoSystem, I did not see this one before. Here you do reflect a bit on the opportunities of capturing lectures, and you also give a reference to someone else. Good! Could you make the link at the end of your post clickable?