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Go with the Floe: Flexible Learning for Open Education

Jun 14, 2011

The development and advancement of information and communication technologies has made a huge impact on the world of education. Students can now access distance learning and open education programs. As these programs have evolved, so have the challenges of addressing the varying needs of diverse learners and creating content that is flexible, accessible and inclusive. One solution that is developing is the Flexible Learning for Open Education (Floe) Project.

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By Mercy McKee

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Floe is Born

In August 2010 the Inclusive Design Research Centre at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University announced Floe, a project funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The aim of the project is to develop solutions that can meet the needs of both learners and content creators. Its vision is to provide customized content to learners and offer solutions to content creators and teachers for tailoring learning materials for diverse learners.

Three Good Reasons for Flexible Open Education

I Like to See It, You Like to Read It

People learn differently. There are a variety of barriers to learning, including individual learning and linguistic preferences and technical, financial, sensory, motor, cognitive or emotional constraints. Educational research shows that students learn best when the learning material, delivery method and experience are personalized to their needs. Floe uses the Open Education Resources (OER) community to develop tools and resources that enable the diverse group of learners and content producers to transform and personalize the learning experience. OERs can be expanded to be more flexible in content development and resource delivery.

Happy, Healthy and Educated

A society's health and prosperity is very dependent on the educational opportunities of its citizens. Not only does educational inequality have a devastating impact on excluded individuals, it also has a negative social and economic impact on the society as a whole.

Meeting Policies and Regulations

Many formal education systems around the world are currently restricted from utilizing OERs due to policies and regulations in place to determine how curriculum should be designed for disabled students. Floe is aimed at helping OERs meet these rules so that education materials are accessible and inclusive for all learners.

Tools of the Trade

Some of the tools that the Floe project has developed include Floe Wiki, which allows users to contribute to the latest design and development work; Fluid Infusion, which allows users to design and build accessible front-end applications and interfaces; and an Inclusive Learning Handbook, where teachers and content creators can contribute to flexible and accessible learning materials. Floe is also developing other tools, so keep an eye out!

Floe isn't the only open education project out there. Open education and peer to peer learning formats are a trend.

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