Monday, October 3, 2011

Flexibility in Educational Process

“Education”. In generally, first impression after read or hear that word could be a school building, where students are sitting in some rows, with a teacher explaining a set of organized-learning materials in front of class. That common paradigm of education is not wrong. Schools in most of country are still adopting that teaching and learning setting. However, is it possible to be more flexible in education? Is it possible for student to learning outside classroom? Is it possible for the students to choose their course based on their needs? Indeed, those possibilities of flexibility in education can be implemented. Collis & Moonen (2001) affirm that student in higher education already took part in flexible learning since long time ago. They have flexibility to choose their intended courses, learning materials, learning experiences, and arrange their preferred time and place for study. Thus, what is flexible learning in this context? Collis & Moonen (2001) define flexible learning is a change of educational setting which key decisions about learning dimensions are decided in advance by the instructor or institution, toward a situation where the learner has a range of options from which to choose with respect to time, content, entry requirements, instructional approaches and resources, and delivery and logistics. 

Those five major dimensions of learning flexibility (Collis & Moonen, 2001) will be described below: 
1. Flexibility related to time. Students have flexibility to choose their starting time and finishing time of their study. For example in University of Twente students have options to choose whether to intake their study in February or September during an academic year. Furthermore, they also can decide their own pace of studying (e.g. 2 years Pre-Master program instead of 1 year). Besides, this flexibility also related to options that are provided by teacher to students in order to meet a deadline of assignment submission. 

2. Flexibility related to content. Students are pleased to choose their own courses based on their needs. This flexibility is commonly implemented in most of higher education institution. Students have a freedom to arrange their own course schedule based on their sequent chose. Nice example of this flexibility is in EST program. Students have wide-open opportunities to choose their interested track, CIMA, EMEA, or HRD. Besides, higher education in the Netherlands also gives good example for this flexibility. Students in Netherlands can choose Hoogeschool if they prefer to continue their higher education in practical framework. For those who prefer in theoretical and research framework, they can continue their higher education to Universiteit. Moreover, flexibility in content also means the students are offered options of assessment standard and completion requirements, such doing project assignment instead of written assignment. 

3. Flexibility related to entry requirements. Students are offered a flexibility of entry requirements in participating educational process at an education institution. Nice example concerning this flexibility is about admission to Unversity of Twente. Prospective students who have sufficient educational background can be admitted directly to master Program. Then, for those who still need basic academic requirements can be offered to participate Pre-Master program before they continue to Master program. Besides, the university also offered full/part time study concerning conditions for participation in educational process. 

4. Flexibility related to instructional approaches and resources. Students are offered wide opportunities in participating learning experience. Students could experience face-to-face course with teacher, or doing task in group or individually. In some international educational institution students are offered options to choose their preferred language during the course or in doing assignment or exam (e.g. English, Dutch, German, France, etc.). Furthermore, in order to attain appropriate learning resources students are offered freedom to explore from many sources such as library, internet, or from other students. 

5. Flexibility related to delivery and logistics. In the line of technology development in education this flexibility in education is really supported. Students are provided flexible communication media by their teacher. Students could contact the teacher through email or digital learning environment anytime, anywhere, with any devices. In addition, in order to deliver a learning content many social media can be used such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Blog and Wiki are also used as method and media of sharing knowledge and information from teacher to students, and students to students. Thus, students are not strived to sit in classroom with old-education-setting.

Example of Web-based Technology that Support Flexible Learning Khan Academy is an appropriate example of flexible learning. Salma Khan—Bangladesh-American, MBA Harvard University graduate—is the founder of Khan Academy.  Khan academy is non-profit educational website that provides more than 2,400 instructional video for students in the world. Many subjects are provided in this learning website, such as Algebra, Arithmetic, Biology, Physics, Finance and Banking, Chemistry, Computer Science, etc.

Khan Academy really supports flexible learning. Students and teachers in around the world could access this website anytime, anywhere, with any devices. It also offers wide range options of subjects that can be chose based on learner needs. Indeed, students can decide their own time when they want to start watch the video, and when to finish it. In order to establish communication way, students are provided an access if there is a problem during learning and exercising in this website. Furthermore, it also provides link (the Khan Academy Meetups) that make possible for learner to do a discussion with other members in their own country or around the world. Some instructional video already have subtitle from many different languages. Indeed, students have a freedom to choose the language that they prefer. Not all video have subtitles since those are made by volunteers around the world who supported this non-profit website. Nevertheless, Khan Academy proves how flexible learning can be implemented nicely in worldwide context.

Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001, second printing 2002). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations. London: Kogan Page.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice blog post! You give a nice introduction, and you show that you know more than we have discussed during the lecture. Maybe you could add some more reflective notes in your next post on what you personally think about the topic?

    Thanks for the link to Khan Academy. Personally I think that this is very interesting and they have many nice things to offer!