In this article, I will reflect in short on the (possible) relationship between flexibility, pedagogical approaches and the use of technology in education.
According to Collis and Moonen (2001), flexibility is "not just about distance". There are multiple conditions that make education more flexible. For example letting the students chose how they will assessed and what contents they want to learn. (For more information, see my other post about flexibility). When using flexibility, it is possible to adapt the course to student's needs, but also student's and teacher's availability. In conclusion, flexibility is all about the adjustment of the course on both teacher's and student's needs. To implement flexibility, teachers can use different pedagogical approaches and technologies.
Teachers can use multiple pedagogical approaches to transfer the content. There are different pedagogical approaches, for instance traditional learning, inquiry based learning, collaborative learning, problem based learning and project based learning. All these approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages when using in education. Like we have seen in simSchool for example, teachers can use different pedagogical approaches to meet every student's learning style. In conclusion, pedagogical approaches are about how the content is transferred. To support pedagogical approaches, teachers can use different technologies and be flexible in the arrangement of the course. Some approaches are more flexible than others.
There are many technologies teachers can use in education. Think about computers, beamers, laptops, iPads and smart boards. But also mobile phones can be used. In a lecture I had, we used smartphones to answer multiple-choice questions and later we discusses the results. It speaks for itself that teachers has to decide in what way they use technologies in education. Technology can be a tool to provide flexibility, for instance when students can watch the lessons via video-conference. Technologies can be also used to manage the course and provide information to students, for instance what universities do with systems like blackboard and teletop. Technologies can also be used for pedagogical reasons. Some pedagogical approaches can be addressed with technologies. For example, in project based learning, students can communicate and share documents with each other via a course management system. Teachers can be reached via email, facebook or twitter. In conclusion, technology can be a tool to apply flexibility and pedagogical approaches.
What we have seen, is that the three topics - flexibility, pedagogical approaches and technologies - are connected with each other. They have interrelationships. To apply flexibility, some other pedagogical approaches than traditional learning could be chosen, and some technologies are needed to provide flexibility. In the other hand, some pedagogical approaches are more flexible than others and can be combined with flexibility. There are also technologies that support some pedagogical approaches. At last, technologies can be used in education, but they should be chosen by matching flexibility and pedagogical approaches. So, teachers cannot just chose a technology but they have to think how a certain technology will match flexibility and/or a chosen pedagogical approach. Technology is - in my opinion - always a tool to reach a certain goal (connected to flexibility and pedagogic approaches for example) and not just a goal itself. Technology can be used as a tool to make students more enthusiastic and motivated, but then the technology is still a tool.
In my model above, I made the interrelationships visual. Flexibility can be implemented by adapting pedagogical approaches and technology, technology can be implemented by adapting the technology on pedagogical approaches and flexibility and so on.
Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001, second printing 2002). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations. London: Kogan Page.