The word “flexible” literally means to be easily adapted, managed or molded. It is a stint that conjures up visions of the suppleness of youth, or the malleability of clay. Added as a prefix to educational practices, to define learning as flexible connotes the freedom of learners from potential participatory barriers of education as a resource availability, family support and commitment, financial challenges, internet connectivity and learner’s geographic location.
In addition, flexible learning is a state of being in which learning and teaching is increasingly freed from the limitations of the time, place and pace of study. But this kind of flexibility does not end there. For learners, flexibility in learning may include choices in relation to entry and exit points, selection of learning activities, assessment tasks and educational resources in return for different kinds of credit and costs. And for the teachers it can involve choices in relation to the allocation of their time and the mode and methods of communication with learners as well as the educational institution.
In the context of Pangasinan State University, flexible learning is operationally defined as the use of a combination of available and accessible learning modalities (emphasis on the students’ resources) to deliver the subject matter with the end goal of giving utmost concern in the acquisition of the intended competency-based learning outcomes. The flexible learning mode must have a teaching-learning structure that puts premium consideration both in face to face (F2F) and home-based (HB) class environment or remote teaching requirements with the capacity of the students to own and use the required instructional resources (cellphone, laptop/desktop computers, internet connectivity, modules, e books/journals etc.), so that the content (subject matter) given is the expected competency of a given subject. The dimensions of flexibility of learning in the context of the University includes flexible delivery mode, flexible time, flexible student grouping, flexible place or location and flexible assessment tools. For flexible delivery mode, delivery of the lessons shall be based on the availability and readiness of the students to own and make use of the learning resources designed for the subject. This could either be formal virtual learning space (LMS platforms like Google Classroom and Moodle) or informal virtual learning space (Facebook, YouTube, etc.), printbased, and blended online. In PSU, the primary learning platform use by learners is MS Teams because it serves several features that caters the need of the students and teachers. At the start of classes, the students will be given the opportunity to select the combination of
delivery mode he/she can avail or access to engage in the teaching-learning process. In this case, the emphasis is flexibility on what delivery mode of learning shall be adopted by giving the students the chance to choose the delivery mode he/she prefers while at home.
On the other hand, to ensure flexible learning time in PSU, the design of the allotted hours for the residential class or campus-based class depends on the hour requirement of the subject unit load. However, this can be modified to suit the situation at a particular time. For instance, the time allotted for a course with a laboratory will be shortened, and the activities will be given as a home-based activity.
As applied in the University, class schedules are given to the students. At the start of class, students are oriented on the requirements, grading system, and the learning contents of the subject. As the classes go on, there might be students that need extra time on a certain topic, i.e., Calculus and Statistics concept. This group of students can be given spare time to discuss the lesson. All the students with the same request for additional time for discussion will be grouped, and a tutorial class is scheduled for them. More so, in PSU the delivery of lessons is a combination of residential (in campus of F2F) for an hour per week or 8 weeks per semester for a 3-unit course and 36 hours for home-based (off-campus).
Given the different alternative delivery modes, this requires various assessment tools to ensure that the learnings acquired are objectively assessed. Hence, relevant and appropriate rubrics to evaluate the performance of the students for each delivery mode used shall be prepared and utilized.
It is a flexible learning environment that aims to optimize student engagement and collaboration without compromising the intended competency-based learning outcomes regardless of what instructional delivery mode will be used. The University’s flexible learning environment will consider the available resources and capability of both the teachers and the students for the delivery of the lessons, creation of tutorial class based on student performance, time spent for a subject and location on where and how the lessons will be delivered.