Introducing Flexible Learning
In today’s world, students increasingly need (and expect) to have flexibility in the way they learn. This is why in March 2020 Navitas University Partnerships Australasia (UPA) embarked on a new approach to learning and teaching, one that would offer our students genuine versatility in their learning experience whilst ensuring minimal disruptions to classes at a time when on-campus classes could no longer be guaranteed. With this, Navitas UPA initiated a Flexible Learning Project with Colleges focussing on re-developing Foundation and Diploma units following a Flexible Learning Design model.
Flexible Learning is a contemporary approach to designing courses for delivery in multiple learning modes. The Flexible Learning design model allows flexibility for students to attend classes face-to-face or online, synchronously* via videoconferencing, or asynchronously** through specially developed equivalent learning activities. The multiple learning modes are further enabled through carefully chosen educational technologies to maximise access to learning and in support of equivalence of learning outcomes.
Flexible Learning was inspired by the work of Dr Brian Beatty and his HyFlex model (2019). When looking to develop Flexible Learning for Navitas UPA, a number of educational theories and frameworks were also consulted. These include the Community of Inquiry Framework, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Bergmann’s Flipped Learning, Connectivism, Social Constructivism, Quality Matters and ACODE’s frameworks. These in turn helped develop the five core principles of Flexible Learning:
The Flexible Learning Project
Sponsored by Bev Hudson, CEO of University Partnerships Australia, the project has a robust governance structure, managed by a Steering Committee, and led by Project Owner Christina Del Medico (Director, Learning and Teaching Services). Constituent College members embarked on the Flexible Learning project by participating in various specialist Working Groups, including:
- A Learning Design and Teaching group
- A Research group
- A Data Management and Technology group
- A Change Management group
- A Communications group
- A Marketing and Recruitment group
- A Quality, Risk and Compliance group
Working groups met on a regular basis throughout the first six months of the project to guide and advise on various aspects of the project until it reached its operationalisation phase.
As part of the project, a Flexible Learning Design Program was developed and implemented which offers teachers professional development on flexible learning unit re-development. To support the redevelopment, a template was developed and deployed to each learning management system (Moodle) to ensure students have a consistent flexible learning experience. Furthermore, a research working group will undertake research on Flexible Learning and its implementation to inform continuous improvement of the approach and to gather evidence-based results for regulatory reporting requirements. Research on the success of the new approach will be carried out throughout the project and into 2022.
Navitas UPA considers this new approach to delivery imperative to sustaining high quality, accessible and attractive learning and teaching offerings across all Colleges in UPA. Colleges have been working extremely hard redeveloping units and operationalisation with students.
*Synchronous: learning delivery modes occurring at the same time, on-campus or online
**Asynchronous: learning delivery modes occurring at different times, anytime, anywhere
Beatty, B. J. (2019). Acknowledgements. In B. J. Beatty (Ed.), Hybrid-Flexible Course Design. EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/hyflex/Acknowledge
Click the following link to read more about the Navitas Flexible Learning Design Program.
To continue the conversation or ask any questions about Flexible Learning, contact Navitas Learning and Teaching Services (UPA) at firstname.lastname@example.org.