Flexible Learning in a Digital World: Experiences and Expectations

Response to the Chapter ‘Flexible Learning: it’s not just about distance’ in the above book (Collis, B and Moonen, J. Kogan Page Ltd, London (2001))

Initial reaction/response:

Overall the article has widened the scope of what I had been thinking of as flexible learning in the scheme of this course. I had taken the focus of this course to be an investigation of ways that technological advances could change modes of learning for the course participant, but I now have a wider approach which I believe will enable me to see more clearly steps to take in delivering a more flexible course. It seems a more practical approach and I enjoyed my horizon being expanded in this way.

However, it also seems a bit of an expanded notion of the possibilities that flexible learning could offer in an ideal world (for the learner). A sky’s-the-limit approach, if you like, and my other initial reaction was to be overwhelmed with what this might mean, as an instructor, if one was meant to achieve it all. As an introductory chapter, it gave me the impression that this was the view that might be taken throughout the rest of the text, which could be a little one-sided. This overall feeling was however tempered by statements such as, “No flexibility option is simple to carry out in practice.”

My next self-directed task will be to read the chapters that discuss this impact further on the instructor.)

I very much enjoyed the discussion on ‘acquisition and participation’ pedagogies, which I saw as a very valuable way of describing the methods of learning already employed in the art school in order to teach skills and foster creative talent. Secondly, I saw it as a useful way of splitting up information intended for a flexible delivery approach. For example, the difference in delivering information in learning a new skill, such as how to work a certain type of camera, and the type of collaborative environment where a discussion of a photographer’s work can occur. This could be the difference between a one-off event from the instructor (posting the technical instruction on a website in video, audio, text form) and a one-off event for the learner (downloading and viewing the posted content), allowing each person to be flexible with both time and distance parameters, compared to a set-up where several people are organised to interact or participate, perhaps at a distance (skype, ichat etc.), but at the same time.

Many of the approaches to flexible learning as introduced in the chapter seem reasonable and achievable, but the main challenges as I se them relating to myself, would be which one to focus on, as a move/decision from the institution and to be very aware of trying too hard to please all of the learners, all of the time. (i.e. to the detriment of either the institution or the instructor or ultimately, other learners.)

I have found extracts from other chapters on google books and after just a quick skim I think I will find more of the book worthwhile reading.

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One thought on “Flexible Learning in a Digital World: Experiences and Expectations

  1. Great find on Google Books! I have never searched into GBooks before, I wouldn’t even know where to start, I guess its just a basic search with book results showing up with everything else..?

    Your post here talks to the technology again.

    You said: “I had taken the focus of this course to be an investigation of ways that technological advances could change modes of learning for the course participant,”

    Really? You’re not the only one in the course to say that. Is it because we are using a few new technologies to access information and communicate in different ways that makes you feel this way? I’m glad the reading has broadened that scope then…

    I find it hard to disconnect the idea of flexible learning from things called technology. I can see where flexible learning can happen without the obvious presence of technology, but ultimately I do find that I am a technological determinist. I think it will be really good if you can show me how that works – how we can explore this course title without making it feel too technological.

    Good to see you liked the article. I had trouble finding my way into it. Your post here makes me feel bad that I didn’t concentrate on it as much as I should have. So you’ve motivated me to read it more thoroughly, and keep thinking about the technology issue…

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