Flexible Learning for Flexible Learners

Todhunter (2013) describes flexible learning is a model of curriculum design that provides a learner with various degrees of flexibility for the following areas:

  • What is learned
  • When it is learned
  • How it is learned; and
  • Where it is learned.


If flexible learning is to cater for the aforementioned areas – a true definition must be dynamic enough to allow for the rate with which technological and societal demands continually evolve, for example, there would be a clear contrast if concepts of flexible learning were applied during the second industrial revolution verse the digital revolution. Currently, flexible learning is enabled by networked technologies but has Todhunter (2013) argues, this doesn’t automatically imply a greater achievement of outcomes. I often wonder, would flexible learning require additional or amended learning outcomes that acknowledge the executive function, agency or soft skills required to (mostly) thrive independently? And if the answer to this question is ‘yes’, I would argue that the ‘How’ and ‘What’ must precede the ‘Where’ and ‘When’.


Has a K-12 educator, I don’t believe Todhunter (2013) would agree that flexible learning exists within the K-12 schooling years, or in its purest form. This is not to state that learning isn’t differentiated, personalised or individualised or that student does not have choices at various stages within their learning, but it must acknowledge that a teacher can have the most impact on student success (Kennedy, 2014). I do believe that there is a clear shift focussing on drawing the necessary disposition required to enable a learner to successfully engage in a flexible learning model. The gradual release of responsibility model is an instructional that fosters guided skill acquisition to enable independence. Although this model can support any age and stage of development, it is a key focus throughout the K-12 years of schooling – incorporating elements of Vygotsky and Piaget’s constructivist learning theories. For the teachers leading the K-12 curriculums, flexible learning is an attractive model for the aforementioned areas (what, when, how and where) of learning. If a student has acquired the ‘how’ and ‘what’, then they can be afforded ‘when’ and ‘where’; they have the flexibility required for Flexible learning.

Image Credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Academic Cap, pixabay.com, CC0 Creative Commons



Kennedy, G. (2014, January 30). official ascilite video: 2013 Conference – Understanding our Present (Video File). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnilKymnPmo&feature=youtu.be

Todhunter, B. (2013). LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education, 34(2), pp. 232-252.

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