One of the most important philosophies of Flexible learning is the concept that education should be about suiting the individual learner. As the name suggests, flexible learning is about delivering an educational program, such as a distance learning course or online business degree, according to the specific needs of the person enrolled on the course. Flexible Learning is about delivering learning around the other commitments of the learner, which are usually domestic and professional responsibilities.
Technology plays a large part in delivering flexible learning, with organisations such as colleges, universities and online degree providers using, developing and innovating a range of technologies. These include principally the use of the Internet, email and mobile communications.
When I returned to education to study for an online business degree including marketing and Internet Marketing, I had heard a bit about flexible learning but didn't know that such a lot of work and education strategy was centred around it. This a major benefit to students and higher education providers as flexible learning can use a number of tools and approaches to ensure students can learn whilst in work or around their domestic and personal circumstances.
One thing to remember though is that flexible learning is about using technology as a tool, rather than just for the sake of learning via the Internet or through mobile communications.
I've noticed how the teacher's role is markedly different from a traditional education setting. Rather than someone who delivers classes from a lecture room ‘stage', the teacher is now more of a guide or ‘facilitator. ’ This means that through flexible learning students are taking more responsibility for the choices and decisions they make through the learning process.
Often a university or distance e-learning provider will use a learning management system (LMS) for flexible learning and e-learning students. The LMS essentially is a computer-based system that encompasses student-teacher communication, online course development, skills management and delivery, course management and delivery and a range of other functions appropriate to the delivery of the online flexible learning course.
The benefits for education providers are less expense on administration, the ability to serve more students, and better measure the performance of students.
Learners benefit from a more personalised study program with improved educational support.
Overall, flexible learning is about empowering students with an independent approach to their subjects, with access to a range of resources and, thanks to the technology, a variety of teamwork, project-based and collaborative learning.
Now I am nearly at the end of my first year of an online business degree, I have found the technology easy to use and find new technologies implemented during the course are easy to become familiar with. This has, I feel, enhanced the overall education and in many ways I feel I have learnt more in the e-learning environment than I would have done in a traditional education setting.
Flexible learning may not be for everyone, but the benefits to students and higher education providers are drawn from established theories and philosophies that seek to benefit students and education providers alike.
Sarah Maple is taking marketing courses and is about to get her distance learning online degree soon.