Learning is in continuous development and growth, and making sure we make the most out of our learning classes is essential. Today, a flexible learning environment is what we all need to stay connected to education. Moreover, learning may be put aside in these challenging times for Ukrainians and Europe. This is why flexibility in learning is essential. It needs to be accessible whenever possible and no matter where you are.
What does flexible learning mean? We try to make you understand its meaning and how it can help you. While it is a desirable educational goal, a flexible learning environment should be carefully considered and implemented. Education needs to exhibit a certain degree of flexibility to become what most students look for and need in this global world. However, too much flexibility could lead to lower standards and quality, while too little flexibility cannot respond to the changing environment and will slowly wilt.
What is Flexible Learning?
Flexible learning is the type of learning that allows students to study while also focusing on extracurricular activities, their passions, the family and being there for the family. It also reflects on the choice of courses students take. Flexibility can offer them the option to choose the best methods that prepare them for life.
Being able to schedule school efficiently while also focusing on your well-being shouldn’t be a one-time thing. It should be accessible to anyone, following any school and any grade. Young people need to see that their needs are listened to, that they are allowed to learn at their own pace and that they are not compared to others’ learning paths.
Flexible learning doesn’t necessarily have to be online or hybrid learning. It can be a combination of both or one of them.
Flexible learning is education with no such concepts as time, place or pace.
Flexible learning has a direct impact on:
– The physical space
– The student groups
– The usage of time
– The learning pace
Characteristics of Flexible Learning
Flexibility in learning does not mean “whatever”. It also needs a certain degree of planning and limits.
The main characteristic that flexible learning has is the balance – this balance between school and life is vital, and it is what today’s society needs.
Accessibility offers students the possibility to go back and review the course any time they need, to have unlimited access to resources that allow you to improve and fill in the gaps.
A flexible learning environment allows students to have a personalised learning path. Besides offering them the possibility of choosing their courses, it also implies that “the school adapts the use of resources such as staff, space, and time to best support personalization.”
The Importance of Flexibility in Education
Education needs to keep up with what today’s society needs. And young people are an essential part of today’s society. Making sure the education system is ready to embrace the needs of today’s young people is the key to a successful education. For some education facilities, remote learning has been a reality for many years, and the COVID – 19 situation just made it a necessity and not a choice.
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” Estrada Ignacio
Benefits for students
More than the flexibility of the physical space where children can choose between online and physical learning environments, flexible learning also makes time flexible. Students are offered flexible learning time in various schools, shortened studying time, and added a new activity. Sometimes this activity connects one activity to the next one, and sometimes it emphasises something you need to strengthen, while sometimes, it just means a relaxing time to focus on the next class.
“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” Alfie Kohn
Benefits for teachers
A flexible learning environment means a heavy – responsibility for teachers. However, besides this, it can also work towards developing teachers and making them feel a bigger fulfilment of their work while seeing students be more engaged in the classroom.
Flexibility allows teachers to work in an environment where they can collaborate with their peers more; they can have a closer relationship with students and understand their needs. They can see each student’s growth.
A flexible learning environment for teachers also comes with ease of mind for their classes and encourages them to give their best.
Teachers also have the choice of time as far as flexible learning is concerned; they can also use different methods for learning. They are not obliged to stick to the curriculum. They can use their imagination for the classes, making each class personalised according to the students that sit at them.
Flexible Learning Examples
Flexible learning comes with many benefits but also many challenges. Weighing in the benefits and challenges, you should decide if it is the proper learning for you. However, “where there is a will, there is a way.”
Humans have always been good at adapting.
Flexible thinking activities
A flexible curriculum “is open, versatile and responsive to an evolving student population, and to changes in circumstances that may require adaptations to the timetable or delivery format to accommodate student availability, for instance, blended learning.” (Promoting equality of opportunity through flexible learning, University of Birmingham inclusive learning environment profile, http://flexiblelearningsep.pbworks.com/w/page/93674297/Birmingham%20University )
Flexible learning environments
The truth is that the more flexible a learning environment is, the higher the engagement rate of the students. However, the flexible learning environments put at the student’s disposal need to consider the student’s capacity to adapt and focus.
A flexible classroom can help respond to the different needs of each student. It is the type of class that help learners get the most of it. Each student has different learning abilities, requirements, and interests; thus, responding to various needs as a teacher and transforming a fixed approach to teaching into a flexible one makes the difference.
Flexible online learning
Flexible online classes are an excellent opportunity for active students that want to follow their passions while also keeping up with their education.
– Virtual courses 100% are when school fits into a student’s schedule.
– Virtual synchronous courses mean some synchronous elements when students virtually attend the classroom simultaneously on the same day each week.
– Virtual, hybrid courses allow students to choose between attending virtually or in-person in a dynamic connected classroom with a school member at a specific date and time.
Flexibility and adaptability in teaching
Planning the lessons is vital for the education system and the process itself. It means the teacher is prepared with all the materials, has the information to share with students and can set a timeframe for the course.
However, not every planned class goes accordingly. Students are unpredictable, and the course path may not be exactly as planned. And this is a small part of what flexibility in teaching means.
Some argue that this flexibility may not allow students to learn all about the subjects. However, most believe that questions, engagement, and curiosities are a part of the learning process and can have better results than any planned lesson. For this, teachers should firstly have flexible methods of teaching.
Flexible teaching strategies
Flexible teaching does not mean there is no strategy attached to it. The subject and the discussion is still at the teacher’s choice.
And the teacher cannot control the inquisitiveness young people have nowadays nor their perception on the subject. Indulging in their curiosity is a great way to keep the class under control while giving students a sense of freedom and subject choice.
Providing a flexible education does not mean a lack of interest or lower interest. On the contrary, students will feel more engaged and interested in the topic if their opinions are heard.
Flexible teacher qualities
Being a flexible teacher means having the capacity to respond to your student’s needs, abilities and interests. While this is a difficult task to accomplish, the answer to success is to be effective. This means taking on various responsibilities simultaneously and responding to students ‘ needs. While mastering this needs experience, each teacher has been through the beginner’s levels and then the master one. There is no need to be afraid to fail or have hard times at first, as all those are normal.
After some experience, you can start to deliver the expected course to your students. Once experienced, as a teacher, you will inspire students. This means having such a high level of intuition on the student’s needs that your abilities to read into their moods will make flexible teaching easy.
Flexible learning at Spark School
At Spark, we give our teachers and students the freedom of choice. While there is a course they base their teaching on, teachers offer each student the possibility to be a part of the classroom take on challenges and leadership roles. They listen to the student’s needs and respond to them.
Students have access to a flexible learning environment. This means
– Learning when they want
– How they want
– As much as they want
– From wherever they are
– At their own pace
At Spark School, we believe creating your learning journey is a great opportunity and helps students become fit for future.
The flexible learning environment helps both students and families have a less stressful life as it grants them the opportunity to continue their passions and follow their dreams. “Personalized learning is a mindset and approach to teaching that focuses on meeting each learner where they are and tailoring a curriculum that considers their interests, prior knowledge and skill level, and pace. Such a demand on the teacher requires sophisticated usage of technology in a combination of personalized, blended and online learning.” (Personalized learning)
Adopting flexible learning comes with its challenges. It takes time, and one needs to have patience and allow both teachers and students to adapt. So expecting each teacher to be equipped with all the necessary tools for this flexible learning environment is wrong.
Flexibility in Education FAQ
What is flexible education?
Flexible education is that type of education where you do not have to worry about time, place or pace as far as your studies are concerned.
A flexible education is an education that:
– Makes the most of the use of technology to provide remote or online study;
– Offers the chance of work-based learning and employer engagement;
– It gives the student the possibility of part-time education;
– Has both the accelerated or decelerated programmes for students to choose from;
– Can adapt to distance, blended learning, online learning or hybrid learning.
What are the flexible learning strategies?
Strategies used to make the flexible learning experience successful depend significantly on the school and the teacher. The teachers’ adaptability to another learning type, the eagerness to put an extra effort to understand students’ perspectives, and the ability to teach the course on the go adapting to students’ needs make the difference.
What are the advantages of flexible learning?
– meet the needs of different types of students;
– enable part-time study that could be attractive to various students and families;
– allow students to combine work, study, family and passions;
– help students to develop skills and attribute to adapt to change successfully
Why is flexibility important in teaching?
Flexibility is vital in teaching as it offers the chance for teachers to adapt to the changing environment, to the growing needs of students and the new technology.
Why is adaptability important for teachers?
Being a teacher has never been easy, and only those that feel the call can make teaching possible. More than ever, adaptability is essential for teachers as it makes them feel a part of the changing world, and it helps them grow and learn new things along with the growth and development of technology.
While teachers take their satisfaction from their students’ results and their fulfilment, they also need to grow and learn. Supporting their development through new teaching methods allows them to put their mark on the course and choose what resonates with them and their classroom, which means a lot.
How does flexible learning affect students?
Flexible learning also means flexible students. As far as flexible learning is concerned, it offers students the ability to have bigger freedom, express their ideas, and choose their educational path and learning pace. All of these seem very attractive, but they also mean that students also have a bigger responsibility for their future. So, flexible learning is excellent as long as students understand that along with slightly bigger freedom of learning, it comes to a bigger responsibility for their future that lies in their hands.