Saturday, October 24, 2009

Response to reading and watching...

Having read for the second time, the chapter from the book by Collis, B. & Moonen, J. (2001). Flexible learning: it's not just about distance, I found it to be a very sensible and holistic approach to flexible learning.

A few points and ideas about flexible learning that have jumped out to me since watching the video on Youtube 'A Portal to Media Literacy' ( and re-reading the Collis & Moonen reading are:
Flexible learning is important because technology is advancing faster than we can learn it. In 'A Portal to Media Literacy' Michael Wesch talks about the students being the ones to shape and decide on the content of this technology in the future.
Flexible Learning strategies are important if our students are to be involved in the future of information. Students need to be equipped with the skills to not only negotiate the web, but to know that they have the power to network, share information and change the landscape of cyber space. Students need to know they have the power to contribute ethically and sustainably to the great pot of information and systems.

So, what is Flexible Learning? At present I see it like this: It's not about 'passive' learning. It's about students understanding their potential and learning ways to achieve that potential.
'Flexible learning is a movement away from a situation in which key decisions about learning are made in advance by the instructor or institution, towards a situation where the learner has a range of options from which to choose with respect to these key dimensions' (Collis & Moonen. p10.)

An antidote for 'passive' learning (where students try to absorb the packets of information that the lecturer dishes out, a.k.a the 'Acquisition Model') is the 'Participation model' (Collis & Moonen. p20,21,22.)

'With the Acquisition Model, the focus of learning activities is on the acquisition of pre-specified knowledge and the development of predetermined concepts. With the Participation Model, the focus of learning activities is on becoming a member of a community of practice, learning from the community but also contributing to it....with the Participation Model the interactions that the learner contributes to may serve to change the knowledge base of the community even as he or she participates'

'Who wants flexible learning?' is a question raised in the chapter that I think is very relevant.
I'm sure all students want some degree of flexibility, but different kinds of flexibility are wanted from one student to the next. Two main 'kinds' of student jump to mind at this point;
*The kind that asks: 'Can I do this? And this? And what about this?'
*and the kind that asks: 'What do I do now?'

1 comment:

Jennifer Hamlin said...

I enjoyed your perspective of flexible learning with regard to learning from and for the community. The participation model of learning is a great way for teachers to move out of the role of lecturing and move into the role of delivering a range of course materials that can be inclusive of a diverse group of learners. It was good to see you exploring the question "who wants flexible learning" and your contemplation of two main kinds of student "'Can I do this? And this? And what about this?'
*and the kind that asks: 'What do I do now?'" These questions seem to imply a discovery learner. But what are some other reasons that a student might want, or need, flexible delivery?