Unlike many of the possible models of blended learning that are in use today, the flex model is not a form that includes aspects of remote learning. However, it does require the extensive use of computer equipment to deliver educational concepts in a classroom setting.
To find out more about how the flex model places hardware at the heart of the classroom experience, read on, or visit the ViewSonic education solutions page for more valuable classroom insights.
Many of the challenges associated with remote learning do not feature in the flex model of blended learning. This makes the approach particularly distinctive because students will be educated in a classroom-like setting, so there is no requirement for home-based computer access. The flex model, however, relies on hardware as the main resource for student-centered learning. This will mean that educators will need to consider many factors in the choice of computer hardware they will install in classrooms or computer labs.
What is the Flex Model of Blended Learning?
With the flex model of blended learning, all of the education students receive is delivered through a computer. Students will typically come to a classroom where there are computers on offer for each individual. Because there is no set times when a lesson or lecture will begin, students are free to come and go as they please to complete their work. In other words, the computer equipment and any educational software that might be provided allows students to direct their own learning. Crucially, this will mean education runs at the pace of each student as an individual, despite the fact that they will often be in the same physical space as their classmates.
In this sense, the flex model of blended learning is an up-to-date and digital version of what non-traditional learning environments have always offered. In such models, students may have historically had access to library resources and educational equipment as well as teaching staff, but they were under no obligation to attend formal lectures, practical demonstrations, or lessons. The flex model replicates this approach in a digital format. A teacher will still be present in the computer lab – or converted classroom – to assist students one-on-one and even to suggest which online resources might be appropriate. However, in this blended learning model, teachers do not stand up in front of a class to present, nor do they set work that is expected to be completed within a specific attendance timescale.
Much of the educational content of a curriculum delivered by the flex model of blended learning will be online. This could include online learning resources, such as video presentations, documentaries, online quizzes, and even streamed educational events from elsewhere in the world. However, the flex model does not need to be solely delivered via online resources. If there is no internet connection at the place of education, then educational resources can still be delivered through computers over the school’s local area network – perhaps from a central server or from the teacher’s own computer terminal. The current reliance on online resources reflects the simple fact that there are so many to choose from that this assists the student-led approach much better in most settings.
What are the Benefits of the Flex Model?
The sort of student who will most benefit from the flex model of blended learning is the one who struggles the most with traditional teaching methods. Indeed, the sort of student who would thrive in a non-traditional school setting will find the flex model very advantageous. This could be because behavioral issues mean that they are disruptive in traditional classroom settings or because they are bright and need to feel stretched without the class’s pace holding them back. Alternatively, they might find concentrating for typical lesson durations harder than their classmates, so the flex model accommodates them on an individual basis.
Nevertheless, the flex model is an educational approach that all students can benefit from. It can be deployed at any age, from primary education right through to university level education. Indeed, because the teacher is available to act as a resource, students do not need to be particularly adept with IT skills to benefit from it.
Another major benefit of the flex model is that it can be deployed at a much lower cost than setting up a traditional educational establishment. The use of online resources makes the approach very flexible, so different curricula can be adapted to it with ease. Students who struggle to make progress can be made more educationally comfortable with this model. It can also help some of the brightest students fulfill their potential more rapidly.
How to Implement a Flex Model
To set up a flex model of blended learning, educational establishments will need computer labs. In most cases, this will mean converting classroom layouts so that every student will have access to their own computer terminal. Although this means there is a relatively high initial implementation expenditure, the use of such equipment – which is owned by the place of education, not the student – can continue for many years, thereby keeping ongoing costs restricted to maintenance and upkeep. Typically, schools will use an all-in-one hardware and operating system solution, such as the ATEN control system, so that every student has a common set of tools, although this is not always necessary. Indeed, a blend of PCs and tablets, for example, may sometimes be seen as the best approach to meet individual students’ needs.
Final Thoughts on the Flex Model
The flex model of blended learning means that schools, colleges, and other places of education can do away with traditional timetabling and, indeed, standardized lesson delivery. However, it does mean that they need to invest in multiple devices so that if all students want to learn at the same time, they can all be accommodated. Despite this, the numerous advantages of the approach, especially among those who would already benefit from alternative learning methods, make it one that is well worth considering for any forward-thinking educational establishment.
If you want to learn more about blended learning, don’t forget to check out our in-depth look that has all you need to know. You can also find out more about integrating technology into the classroom by visiting the ViewSonic education solutions page.