One of the many online definitions I came across in my search for information on the concept of flexible learning, described it as “accessing education in a way that is responsive in pace, place and/or mode of delivery”. Flexible learning, it suggests, will typically include the use of technology that allows for remote or online study.
Alastair Creelman, in his video ‘Flexible Learning’, makes an important observation about the way in which technology tends to be used in the ‘flexible learning’ space; he notes that, despite an almost boundless cache of resources available to us, we don’t seem to be able to move beyond trying to recreate the ‘classroom’ format – be it made of brick and mortar, or in a virtual space like Second Life (Creelman, 2014).
Doug Belshaw says something similar when he points out that we tend to be very quick to use the technology available to us to copy (or enhance) that which we already have; books have merely become eBooks, with pages and covers that have been designed to resemble or ‘behave’ like those that exist in the analogue world. He urges that we should rather be using technology to do what has not been possible before; we need to “evolve rather than emulate” (Belshaw, 2014).
Perhaps we should start looking for truly innovative ways to use the technology available to us to design flexible learning spaces that allow us to move beyond the boundaries of the familiar and the predictable…instead of being bound to the ‘classroom’, we should be ‘dancing on the ceiling’!
[Dancing on the Ceiling, Lionel Ritchie, 1986].