Flexible, blended, and online learning

Frequently used terms such as flexible learning, online learning and e-learning “are understood in very diverse ways by providers and clients.Consequently what they do under these headings, and the judgements they make about the outcomes and outputs vary greatly” (KPMG Consulting Australia & LifeLong Learning Associates, 2002, p. 82).

Todhunter’s paper illustrates the lack of clarity university students may perceive in their understanding of the above terms. There exists, however, a technological imperative to do online what is possible in a proximate context.  Universities who advocate distance learning, MOOCs and the like, envision the potential technology affords. Todhunter points out the disparity between the definition of an “on-campus” student and an “off-campus” one. Does one who is on site physically, seated in the cafe but not the lecture theatre, constitute an on-campus student? Watching his lecture in his own time rather than at the appointed time? The question Todhunter raises is one of semantics.

 

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In the secondary situation, students gather in groups of similar ages, in a physical location, reined around that location by teachers and bells, packing and unpacking bags, beginning and ending lessons in different disciplines. Technology is cornered into the same pattern, with the LMS as the new blackboard and the iPad as the new slate. The potential to create a more dynamic virtual and physical space for learning is always there, but the importance of the forming of a mindset for change, for an emerging collaborative and connected culture, remains latent in the shared philosophy of what constitutes secondary education.

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