Flexible learning [FL] is all about delivering quality education around the needs of the student who has work and family commitments. The philosophies and theories of FL concern making education accessible to a broad range of students, and enabling students to make the most of it in the time frame and course structure that is right for them.
Thanks to the technologies of e-learning, such as the virtual learning environment and online degrees, flexible learning is a strong feature of many online courses available to students in full time work.
FL suits employers too, because students often find that an online or distance education course will fit in around their work /family schedule. Furthermore, staff at colleges that offer courses delivered via the FL format will also understand that their students are also professional people.
This helps in two main ways – that teachers of online degrees and FL will recognise that the course needs to be delivered with the student’s other responsibilities in mind, and that they could be in a career that will both contribute to, and benefit from, their chosen path of FL.
Engaging students in the e-learning environment is the key to making sure the technology is accessible, functional and easy to use. This sits comfortably with the philosophy of FL, where focusing educvation resources and course work in tune with the professional schedule of the student can achieve better engagement with the online education.
Components such as project work and team exercises are accessible through FL online courses, thanks to the capabilities of the virtual learning environment. Web based applications can facilitate a range of functions that in many ways can have a better impact on student results than a conventional campus based college.
So, although FL is not necessarily dependent on a range of web based technologies, when the technology exists to support and develop the delivery of online education, then it can only expand the range of students who may not otherwise find it possible to study for an online degree.
The future of FL seems to be more and more linked to the development of the virtual education environment. For instance, distance learning courses now feature a much greater range of study activities thanks to innovations and development of Internet education applications.
Yet the self-motivation and discipline attributes of the student remain the same as any education platform for any flexible or distance online education programme to be of benefit.
Studies show though, that employers see flexible learning as a necessary path to increasing their employee’s skills and knowledge, with a professional attitude to studies already engrained from study-related aptitudes in the workplace.
Far from being an easy approach to learning, FL merely exists to support students who would otherwise find it impractical to attend a college in a traditional setting. For employers and staff alike, FL is the education platform of choice.