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Flexibility in Online Learning: What It Means for Students

Flexibility allows students to get to know themselves better and schedule their learning schedule accordingly. This means that the time their focus is high and their capability of retaining information is significant is when they will start their learning. In time, it will lead to them having better results. 

This article is part of the Flexible Learning Guide. Learn all about Flexible Thinking Activities, Flexible Learning Environments, and Flexibility in the Classroom.

Nowadays, there is a necessity for online learning, and institutions are trying to answer this need by offering the chance to study online or hybrid. The flexibility of online studies helps students worldwide have access to education without worrying about location, time or quality.

Traditional student or not, the changing environment and the social and economic factors that evolve make life as a student more demanding. This, along with the classes, may prove too much. 

Flexible learning also comes as help to increase access to higher education, particularly as worldwide enrollments are expected to double by 2025 (Maslen, 2012).

Having the flexibility of online education will give students peace of mind, will allow them to take things at their own pace and learn at their own will while also continuing to pursue their passions.  

The flexibility in online learning has a primary significance – it offers bigger freedom to students. This is the most appealing factor as far as the flexibility of online learning is concerned. 

The key elements of flexible online learning are – pace, place and mode. (Gordon, 2014)

The Importance of flexibility in online learning 

Mostly the reason people choose online learning is because of the flexibility it offers. 

As technology evolves, online learning can offer experiences equal to offline classes. It can do this through gamification, virtual and augmented reality. All of them will create a richer learning experience that will provide students with the same experience as the class learning.

While online learning is increasing, making it more flexible is a plus.

What does flexibility in online learning mean?

It mainly refers to the fact that you can study the course materials anytime your desire. 

However, it does not mean a lack of structure, guidance and support. Flexible online learning also offers flexible help from tutors and mentors that guide you through the course.


Effects of flexible online learning on students 

 – A more significant focus on the comfort and quiet environment of your study place. Flexible online learning means “how, what, when and where [individuals] learn: the pace, place and mode of delivery” (Higher Education Academy [HEA], 2015, para 1)

 – It allows them to take charge of their life.

 – It offers them greater satisfaction when they know they can study while also continuing with their passions.

The benefits of a flexible online learning program 

There are various benefits that a flexible online learning program offers. Due to technological advancement, you can follow an online education system and do not feel the lack of socialising and interaction with your colleagues.  

Flexibility allows students to get to know themselves better and schedule their learning schedule accordingly. This means that the time their focus is high and their capability of retaining information is significant is when they will start their learning. In time, it will lead to them having better results. 

Some of the main benefits of a flexible learning program are:

 – Flexibility to speed up your degree at your own pace. While in conventional classes, teachers have their speed and usually have to tick a task on the learning board and rush students into understanding a subject, having the possibility to tackle the subject at your own pace is excellent. 

 – Comfort to study from anywhere. There is a  direct connection between feeling comfortable in your learning environment and the learning results. Thus, if you are in a familiar atmosphere, it may make you feel like you do not have to worry about anything else but focus on studying. 

 – No need for long commutes as you virtually enter to have any class. Sometimes getting to school may prove a challenge as you need to wake up an hour earlier to get ready and then commute to school. Losing at least two hours per day on commuting is sometimes frustrating when you have a lot of homework. 

 – You are in complete control of your studying program, just like you are in a workplace. This will get you readier to balance the work-life when needed.  

Advantages and disadvantages of online learning 


 – Students develop their responsibility.

 – Students become aware of the importance of organising.

 – Online learning helps students be more independent.

 – It increases the student’s confidence in making decisions for their future.

 – You can connect with people worldwide as it has no boundaries.

 – Easier to attend classes.

 – Access for a bigger number of students to education. 


A significant disadvantage of online learning is the separation it may cause between those with internet access, access to various and improved computer systems, those that have a computer and those in developing countries where technology and accessibility of it are two things they do not focus on nor have. 

If you have trouble committing to something if it is not mandatory, choosing online learning can be a trick. Not committing to a studying schedule will leave you behind in classes, and you will have trouble making up for so many courses. 

Some students may have an increased sense of isolation if they opt for online learning. The minimal physical interaction is necessary for some who feel this interaction gives them moral support. 


Related Terms 

  • distance learning vs online learning 

The distance learning concept existed long before online learning. It is a kind of learning where students are given the learning materials and can go through them as they wish. In addition to the courses, students should attend some live sessions.

In comparison, online learning is where students have online access to the courses and can access them when they want. It also provides self-assessment materials for students. It can come with support from the tutor or mentor. 

  • flexible learning vs online learning 

Flexible learning allows students to choose when, how and where to learn. It does not necessarily have to be online. It addresses how to use the physical learning space, group students while learning, discuss topics, and learn pace. 

E-learning is a need because of its flexibility regarding the pace, place, and mode of learning. However, online learning can be flexible as well. These days this is what online learning is all about – flexibility. 

  • modular learning vs online learning 

Modular learning is a type of class where students receive teh course materials in handouts to study until a specific deadline. The handout type provides the same access to materials for everyone and an easier way to study – as the information is summarised. With the modular classes, students can show what they learned only at the deadline.

Online classes offer students the ability to communicate constantly online and give and receive feedback on their course understanding and tasks. Online learning, in comparison, is done online and has no deadline for the lessons. The course is not summarised, and each student can take their understanding of the course.


There certainly are two teams – those pros and those against online learning. However, it is essential to bear in mind that online learning came not as a replacement for the traditional learning system but as a help to those students that cannot follow a conventional learning system from various considerations. There is no need to judge any of the teams as each learning type has its advantages and disadvantages. 

When choosing what best suits you as a student, focus on the one solution with the most advantages. 


Flexible Online Learning FAQ 

  • How is online school more flexible?  

Just being online, having the chance to study the courses at your own will, having the opportunity to review them every time you want for a better understanding and having the chance to study anytime fits your schedule gives the online school the flexibility most students look for. Besides all this, it allows students to choose the courses they want to have. 

  • What are the advantages of flexible learning?

Flexible learning helps students 

 – Continue their extracurricular activities

 – Choose their courses

 – Make their schedule 

 – Learn at their own will

 – Become more responsible

 – Develop organising skills

  • What is a flexible online class? 

A flexible online class is a class that allows students to learn when they want, how they want and from where they want.