Flexible learning has been a hot topic in education since the 90s, although it significantly gained popularity once the internet became widely accessible. The idea is that students are better able to grasp concepts without rigid guidelines that pigeonhole them into specific ways of learning. This means that location, time, learning requirements, teaching style, and grading all have increased flexibility.
In 2017, the Singapore American Schools (SAS) middle school did a huge overhaul to create a more flexible learning environment for the students. The sixth graders were given a flexible block of time after lunch to study what they pleased. Sometimes this block was used to reinforce concepts from earlier in the day, sometimes it was used to further those concepts, and sometimes students even decided to create projects across disciplines.
By giving the students the freedom to study what they wanted and when they wanted, it increased their desire to learn. They were better able to advance in areas that they showed strength, as well as get help in areas where they needed assistance. In other words, allowing students to have flexibility goes a long way.
Online learning has been one of the biggest advancements for flexible learning, especially with higher education. Now, with courses through online education platforms like Udacity, people everywhere are able to easily continue their education.
Before, taking courses involved driving to a campus and sitting in a classroom at a particular time every week. These days, it’s possible to squeeze in a lesson or two at work during a lunch break, or at home, once the kids are down for the night. This flexibility of schedule and location means that you can get a world-class education without the need for moving to where the school is or getting a visa. You can choose to keep your day-to-day schedule while you learn, or even travel around the world! All you need is an internet connection and a computer.
And the benefits go way beyond just the flexibility of time and place. Online education with flexible learning means that you are able to keep earning money while you add to your resume. Want to get certified in Artificial Intelligence but don’t want to break the bank? You can take Udacity’s Nanodegree with your morning cup of coffee before driving to the office.
Another aspect of flexible learning is that it brings together people from all over the world. Since the courses are all online, anyone with an internet connection can access them. That means that you might be in a class with someone who has the same interests, but lives on the other side of the world! Add them on LinkedIn and now you have global diversity in your job network.
So if you’re wishing to take a big step forward in your career, or even just in your personal development, remember that flexible learning makes that so easy. Not only is it possible to fit all of your educational goals into your pre-existing schedule, but there’s evidence backing up that learning that way works!