What About Flexible Learning and ICT? – A Review of Technology Based Flexible Learning in Tertiary Education

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Gerbic, Philippa
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
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PCF3 // The impact of the Internet and information communication technology (ICT) on the tertiary sector is well recognised in the literature. Tiano (1996 in Inglis & Joosten, 1999) in a comparative model of the old and new paradigms of education repositions technology from an expense under the old paradigm to that of a differentiator in the new paradigm. Technology is often discussed as a solution to problems facing universities in a world that is commonly characterised by rapid change, globalisation, falling revenues, competition, and learner diversity (Cunningham et al., 1998). The e the link between ICT and lifelong learning has been highlighted as universities seek to develop knowledge workers for the new information economy (Harper et al, 2000). Collis and Moonen (2001) believe that there is a “sense of inevitability” (p37) about the use of computers, as universities consider how they best communicate their reputation and market positioning. // Wallace (2003) notes that internet based online courses are still a relatively new phenomenon, with rapid expansion occurring during the 1990s. A new terminology of learning has now emerged, for example, the new paradigm of learning (Kaye (1989), the virtual classroom, (Tiffin and Rajasingham 1995, cited in Campion, 1996), learning networks (Harasim et al (1996), internet based learning (French et al, 1999, and ICT based learning communities (Wallace, 2003). One concept that has gained widespread use is that of flexible learning. This paper examines ICT based flexible learning through a review of the literature. It looks first at the concept from a theoretical point of view and then examines its meaning in current practice with particular reference to convergence and the role of technology. Lastly it looks at challenges for learners.
New Zealand