Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Activity Two

What does the term Flexible Learning mean to me?
Flexible learning to me is about facilitating learning and demonstration of knowledge in ways that suit learner styles and circumstances. This would probably mean the use of both synchronous and asynchronous activities and assessments.  Flexibility I believe gives a level of empowerment to the learner but also responsibility in terms of engagement. This could involve concepts such as learning contracts. Self-direction is important.
A couple of years ago I engaged with a postgraduate distance paper and was really frustrated that in a 7 week schedule not all the modules were opened to view the content. There was an assumption that we would engage on a week by week basis and leave the summative assessment until the final week. I found this really frustrating as I had a week’s planned leave earlier in the course and wanted to ‘hit it hard’ then and also start working on my assignment. Writing a large essay in the final week made all sorts of assumptions about when we were able to engage with the content especially as the unopened modules focused on content integral to the assignment. Flexibility to me is about letting the student have some control over pace of learning and engagement with assessment tools.
I find collaboration and group presentations in a flexible environment challenging. Dependence on others for input into an assessment that may not have the same degree of enthusiasm or grade aspirations for the topic can be frustrating.
Why is it necessary to use a more flexible approach in your work?
Midwifery is an art as well as a science midwives can be aligned to various philosophical ideals based a tremendous variety of experiences and evidence they use to inform their practice.  Partnership with women is central to the midwives focus which means midwives must adapt their practice accordingly. Similar situations may not warrant the same response as informed consent and choice guide interaction. Midwives will expect educators to have similar response to them as students in alignment with this partnership model. Women need midwives to remain embedded in their communities education needs to be sensitive to the realities of midwives lives and responsibilities i.e. dependents, on-call, shift work etc. It is not very practical for most midwives to leave their responsibilities to engage in education commitments outside of their communities especially as backup for extended periods can be hard to negotiate.  There is so much more potential for education to be delivered creatively than the traditional class room setting than ever before. Internet resources and technological advances such as telecommunications and media mean that the ‘classroom’ as a physical location may rarely be used again?
Flexible learning can vary in more ways than learning at a distance it involves options in resources, activities and types of media to support learning (Collis & Mooen 2002).
“Flexible learning is a movement away from a situation in which key decisions about learning dimensions are made in advance by the instructor or institution, towards a situation where the learners has a range of options from which to choose (Collis & Mooen p.10, 2002)”.
Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2002). Flexible learning in a digital world, experiences and expectations.  London: Kogan Page

What do you need to explore to help this happen?
Need to understand how to produce and incorporate new mediums e.g. blogs, discussion forums, videos, power points, polls, quizzes etc.
 I need to explore what the Midwifery council would view as acceptable demonstration of learning to allocate professional development points to the course.
What goals do you have for using Flexible Learning in your work?
• • Accommodate learner styles
• Academically robust
• Accessible
• Enjoyable
• Engaging
• Learner centered


  1. A fabulous post Fee. It is always interesting to hear about participants' experiences of flexible learning in their context. Yes I agree that not showing the learner what is coming up can inhibit the experience of the holistic learner who likes to see the 'big picture'.

    You may be interested in exploring this learning styles inventory

    See the actual ILS questionnaire

    I am interested to find out more about your goals in future posts, and also the reasons that the other mediums that you mention will support the partnership model of midwifery and accommodate the needs of midwives who need to keep up to date. Why is it important for undergraduate midwifery students to have exposure to different media for learning?

  2. Hi Fee, totally agree with Bron...a very interesting post - you certainly made me think about how/when I make my course context available.

    Can I please make a couple of suggestions to enhance the reader's experience of reading your blog.

    *Break your text down into smaller paragraphs.
    *Take a long post and break it into more than 1 post
    *Add images to make the post more visually engaging.

    Thank you, Sarah :)

  3. Thanks for you feedback. I will try to look for an image probably not of me as I avoid same being posted on any social media forums (call me paranoid!) etc but agree it would enhance the reader experience.