Flexible learning, as a term, is increasingly familiar in its use within the higher education sector; indeed definitions are multiple and can often be competing. Flexible learning encompasses a range of approaches and practices all aimed at providing or supporting the educational experience of students.
Online resources, in particular have been produced to support, reinforce or prompt learning. This format of flexible learning puts the student at the centre allowing supported self-study, not self supported study. Open access allows learners to work independently, at a self-initiated pace and for as long as they want. The learner can direct and manage the experience and this aims to be both motivational and inspirational.
This ‘evolution’ or revision in approach to engaging students Hartley (1995) attributes to the increasing pressure on universities to be more flexible and diverse when faced with the current economic and cultural changes. The emphasis on tertiary institutions to be more adaptable to change as key to survival has, in tandem with technological advances, increasing access etc., led to considerations of how to deliver programmes via alternative means.
Promoting learning through exploration, experimentation and discovery it seems will develop confidence and in turn develop competence. This research project “Colouring Between the Lines”, aims to investigate what impact, if any, flexible learning spaces have on student confidence in their abilities and how do they perceive their development?
Hartley, D., (1995), The ‘McDonaldization’ of higher education: food for thought, Oxford Review of Education: 21:4, (pp. 409-423)