Thursday, April 3, 2008


Is flexible learning a new concept or just a fancy new word for an old way of doing?

Education at a higher level is undertaken by choice. So it seems right, that the individual can tailor their learning path and style their situation and needs. Flexible learning not a new concept, today the diversity of learners broad and there is a need for flexibility that may not have existed to this extent in the past. Technology plays a big part in how we can make things more flexible. The many methods of communication availible today offer plenty of dimensions to create new flexibilities that haven’t been done before.

Things that I do in my practise that enable flexible learning

Content – A large component in this course is drawing, this is both investigative and observational. For Investigative drawing there is a brief. The brief is relatively flexible in that students choose the content and way of ‘making’[1] to suit their own practice. As a lecturer I give feed back and guidance to promote the individuals unique way of making and creative processes. In observational drawing the content flexible as well, in that students choose the subject matter. Scheduled observational drawing tutorials teach students techniques the lecturer chooses the subject matter in this instance but a component of the coarse is a self directed observational drawing log to be done in the students own time. Students are asked to draw everyday, they can draw what ever they want, however they want using the medium of their choice, the only requirement with it is to draw from life.

Studio choices – Students choose 4 studio papers that spread out over the year. There is a choice of about 16 different courses both fine art and design based. The only draw back with this is timetabling clashes. As the Certificate in Creative Studies is a foundation type of course it is pitched to offer a broad spectrum of skills, experiences and learning paths. Many of the students that come to this course are unsure exactly where they want to take their learning but they know that it is in the field of working creatively and visually.

Contact hours – Most of the time students are in studios working with a lecturer, however students have access to the studios from 7 in the morning till 10 at night this includes computer suites. The work shop can only be used while there is a staff member present. If students want to have extra help with something students can make appointments with either the lecturer or the TRA(teaching and research assistant, in the creative studies coarse there are 2, I am one of those as well as part time Lecturing).

Entry requirements – this is an open entry course. However there is an expected level of numeracy and literacy and so on starting the coarse all students sit a short maths and English test to see if they meet the level, and those that fail have to take a maths or English class or both.

Assessment – This year in creative studies we have staggered the assessments as so that students don’t have hand-ins all in the same week but spread out 3 weeks.[1] The word ‘Make’ in the context of art and design refers to the practical creation the work ‘Making the work’.

1 comment:

Bronwyn hegarty said...

Agreed there is nothing new about flexible learning! You make a very good point about choice at the higher level. To extend your ideas further about the need for students to tailor their own learning; somehow the idea of the customer as part of a business model - user pays - has blurred the boundaries. Now learner choice has been confused with "we had better to provide something they want, or they will complain".

We do need to be more pro-active and let students take control, supporting them to make the best choices and find the pathways and learning strategies which will be of most benefit for them in the real world.

Thanks for the explanation of what you are doing in the classroom. Lots already which fits the mould of flexibility. Lots of potential here to provide connectivity and some further flexible options.

Are there any areas where you see issues for the students, or particular types or groups of students which a more flexible option could address?