Not so long ago, when you wanted to pursue any kind of educational experience, you had to enroll in a course, pay your tuition and then commit to a specific time and place for a certain amount of time (e.g., a quarter, semester or academic year) to complete the experience. However, in today’s modern and technology-centered times, there are new and innovative ways to pursue an educational experience as many educational institutions are starting to embrace the concepts of Flexible Learning and Flex Learning; which are defined as the following:
- “Flexible learning is an alternative to the face-to face teaching model traditionally associated with higher education” Cybinski & Selvanathan (2005, p. 252)
- “FlexLearning is a course delivery strategy that allows student to have the option to take course either completely face-to-face, or completely online, or in a blended fashion with no learning deficit.” Penn State, Lehigh Valley (2015, Section. Background)
Flexible learning environments are crucial for several reasons; one of them being that is allows schools to stay on top of global education trends by offering new course delivery formats such as taking a course online or a flexible mix of online and the traditional classroom format. In addition, with more adult learners choosing to return to school, flexibility and convenience is necessary. Also, eliminating the need for a traditional classroom format can help schools remedy some of their budget constraints. These are only some of the reasons that flexible learning environments continue to grow and will most likely keep growing.Some of the characteristics of a flexible learning environment include reduction in the face to face (FTF) time of the traditional learning environment, the convenience, and flexibility of adapting your learning experience to your personal schedule as well as the reliance on technology in learning and assessment. In addition, participants in the non-traditional learning environment need to discover their own motivation and be self-sufficient to succeed in this kind of environment.Modern flexible learning environments include:
- E-learning: utilizes electronic media environments for the educational experience
- Blended learning: Combines face to face and online environments
- Flipped learning: can be web-delivered which is 100% online or web enabled; which offers a choice of face to face or online.
- Mobile learning: can happen anywhere, at any time when the participant is available