Not a quick x and it won't come cheap

2nd June 1995 at 01:00
Flexible-learning cannot provide any "quick-fix" solutions. Plans for its introduction have to be carefully thought through and evaluated pragmatically if they are to succeed in improving the quality of educational experience.

Designing new learning materials and resources is itself a time-consuming process. It cannot be done on the cheap without adequate staff remission and investment in new facilities. It cannot work as a surrogate for teachers. The impetus behind the shift towards flexible learning has its source in a number of contradictory pressures and demands. "Pull" factors include the new possibilities generated by electronic technology and recognition of the importance of students developing independent research skills and experiencing a variety of learning strategies. But "push" factors are also at work: having to cope with larger student numbers, a much more varied intake, and operating courses throughout the year.

The shape and pattern flexible-learning takes does not conform to any standardised assembly-line format. Indeed there is no single model of what flexible-learning actually is. In some contexts programmes introduced under this label could work to undermine and limit the quality of educational experience, while in others they could extend and enrich it. There are no magic recipes on offer in educational innovation.

What is not in doubt is that flexible-learning cannot be dismissed as some passing fashion which will soon be forgotten. As to its eventual impact it will be the watchdogs on the ground - the students and lecturers directly involved - who will make the final judgment.

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