Facilitating flexible learning environments

Todhunter (2013) is correct, there is some confused use of terminology in the confusing field of online learning. His discussion of blended learning, online education, open learning, and flexible learning motivated me to clarify my understanding of these principles and determine what I believe they mean when applied to a school environment.

Convergent information and communication technologies (ICT) have transformed our entire world, not excluding the educational environment. ICT is a tool, be it a very powerful tool, to be used in education; it is our task to know its possibilities and limitations as we employ this tool to design and craft real, authentic and meaningful learning experiences for our students.

Electronic devices and the networked environment of the Internet allow access to digital tools and online platforms that enable the inclusion of virtual learning experiences into face-to-face classroom instruction. This extension of the classroom and classroom instruction enable us to consider the different learning styles, preferences and needs of our students in learning design. We can utilise the tools at our disposal to facilitate student-driven learning experiences that are personalised and adaptable. We can facilitate flexible learning.

I like the approach from the University of British Columbia to Flexible learning, which helped me develop my own understanding:

  • Some learning will happen in the classroom. Some of it individually, some of it socially, with collaboration, participation and cooperation.
  • Some learning will happen outside of the classroom. Here structured as flipped learning, and blended learning approaches, (and here is the difference).
  • Some learning will be aided through resources inside the classroom and some resources will be outside of the classroom, incorporating our flat and connected world, as Julie Lindsay explains in this video: 

We have always acknowledged that the learning needs of all students are not the same, differentiated learning, individualised according to additional support or extension is possible when we include e-learning as we scaffold and create learning experiences for our students.

Learning in the digital age is no longer static, but fluid. We have to be flexible to make the most of it.


Australian Government, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (n.d.). Learning design. Retrieved September 17, 2017, from http://ldt.eworks.edu.au/PartA/S11_1.aspx

Flipped Learning Network. (n.d.). The four pillars of F-L-I-P. Retrieved September 17, 2017, from https://flippedlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/FLIP_handout_FNL_Web.pdf

Julie Lindsay. (2017, August 14). Thinkpiece 2017 Julie Lindsay [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=n4iR-zm7dIE

Todhunter, B. (2013). LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education, 34(2), 232-252. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2013.802402

University of British Columbia. (n.d.). Flexible learning. Retrieved September 17, 2017, from http://flexible.learning.ubc.ca/

University of South Florida. (n.d.). What is blended learning? Retrieved September 17, 2017, from The Blended Leanring Toolkit website: https://blended.online.ucf.edu/about/what-is-blended-learning/




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