The quote below argues that flexible learning is not a modality, as is often suggested in the literature. Rather, it is a value – a guiding principle. others have argued the same way about openness – that it is an ethos. This is a helpful way to think about flexibility. Inevitably though, it raises questions about its assumptions and outcomes: Is flexibility always “good?” For whom is it “good?” Arguing for making education “less flexible” is of course nonsensical, but the point isn’t to argue for something to be less than. It’s to ask how to think about and mobilize flexibility for education to be more equitable.

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. As such flexible learning, in itself, is not a mode of study. It is a value principle, like diversity or equality are in education and society more broadly. Flexibility in learning and teaching is relevant in any mode of study including campus-based face-to-face education.

Naidu, S. (2017) How flexible is flexible learning, who is to decide and what are its implications? Distance Education 38(3), 269–272.