Comparing Formal, Open and Self-directed Learning

Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, Feb 01, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Terry Anderson bridges the gap between formal learning and informal learning with open learning. He looks at the properties of each, and concludes that open learning offers more advantages than either other alternative. One wonders, though, at the valuations; they seem a little arbitrary, and not entirely accurate. Anderson rates open learning a 3 out of 3, for example, for "Freedom of Pace." Unless things have changed since I was at Athabasca, though, students face time limits (it was six months per course while I was there). Open learning is also offered through paced seminar courses; I know, I've taught them. He also gives open learning a 3 for "Guidance and Support." This seems generous; how many Athabasca students would be able to meet the course professor on a regular basis? I think it is useful to move beyond the formal-informal learning dichotomy, but we need to look at it more closely.
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