Thomas, T. (2012). Has distance learning become more flexible? Reflections of a distance learning student. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects,8 39-49. United States of America: Informing Science Institute. Retrieved from http://www.ijello.org/Volume8/IJELLOv8p039-049Thomas0792.pdf
This paper provides insight into the way in which distance learning had changed over the past 30 years from the perspective of the author as a distance learning student. The question is then asked as to whether current practice is reducing flexibility for distance learning students? The paper starts with a discussion of flexible learning and the different factors that need to be considered when making distance learning flexible for students. The paper then describes the author’s experiences as a distance learning student in the early 1980s and compares it to her experiences as a student in 2006-2008. The experiences were compared using various dimensions of flexibility. The main dimensions used were flexibility of content, assessment, instructional approach, course delivery, time, and learning styles. While flexibility had improved in some areas, improving the pedagogical design by engaging students on an ongoing basis had also decreased flexibility in others. The paper concludes with a look to the future and factors that online designers might consider in balancing different types of flexible learning activities.
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