i²Flex: Introducing the new educational tool

by: Stefanos Gialamas, Ph.D, President, ACS Athens

Ethos Magazine, Winter 2013, Vol 8, Issue 1

www.i2flex.gr

At ACS Athens, we believe that that we must embrace and adopt alternative avenues of learning to further enrich our students’ learning. At the same time, we believe that all of our practices must be rooted in fundamental educational philosophical principles of “Morfosis” (Μορφωση), a central tenet of Classical Greek experience. Let us define “Morfosis” (for the 21st Century) as a holistic, meaningful and harmonious educational experience guided by ethics. Here we find what is stable, permanent and essential in a context of flux and flow.

Educating learners for their lives as 21st century leaders requires us to create a new paradigm that integrates different modalities of teaching and learning, while embodying the principles of “Morfosis.” We call this approach I2Flex.

The i2Flex approach consists of face-to-face and non-face-to-face teaching and learning experiences. The non-face-to-face teaching and learning component includes both on-line synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning experiences structured for individual and collaborative/interactive activity and guided by the teacher, as well as independent on-line and experiential learning experiences initiated and completed by the student.

The choice of what kind of learning experience is best accommodated on-line or independently has the potential to radically transform the nature of what happens during real-time, face-to-face teaching and learning. The i2Flex model privileges constructivist, inquiry-based, project-based teaching and learning. Thus, we would expect that face-to-face meetings between and among students and teachers (in the classroom and out of the classroom) would feature highly interactive learning experiences that are focused on the intellectual skills of analysis, evaluation and creation, since much of the work of knowledge acquisition, associated with the intellectual processes of remembering, understanding and application, can be accomplished through on-line learning activities and independent investigation. Students will be engaged in classroom learning, but they will also understand that learning opportunities exist in many forms, and that learning occurs anywhere and anytime – for everyone.

Central to successfully implementing the i2Flex approach to teaching and learning is the faculty’s commitment to creating high quality course shells and a continuous process of assessing, improving, and enriching them with relevant resources, materials, strategies, platforms for peer to peer and student – teacher communication and collaboration, and user-friendly navigation. Design and evaluation of course shells is based on research-based standards, consistent with the standards that we would apply to good teaching practice in any setting, developed by Quality Matters. Individual course shells are more than repositories of course materials or an archive of course activities, but in a real sense they provide an evolving super-structure that holds the disparate parts of the course together, and ensures that the total learning experience – comprised of face-to-face classroom and field-study work, teacher structured and guided on-line learning, and independent on-line and experiential investigation – is genuinely holistic, harmonious and meaningful: a model of Morfosis for the 21st century.

In conjunction with our implementation of i2Flex, we are also working on implementation of four additional program initiatives, consistent with the principles of constructivist pedagogy and embedded in the i2Flex paradigm, all focused on developing and implementing strategies for effective teaching and learning that will enhance student performance.

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