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Introduction to the Task Force on Flexible Education

Bill Krane, special advisor to the Vice-President, Academic, is chairing the TFFE. He believes it will have an enormous impact on the direction of teaching and learning at SFU.
Bill Krane, special advisor to the Vice-President, Academic, is chairing the TFFE. He believes it will have an enormous impact on the direction of teaching and learning at SFU.

“The TFFE will take a holistic view of SFU’s teaching and learning environment. ”

Almost 50 years ago Simon Fraser University, dubbed BC’s “instant university”, began offering a distinctive learning experience to its students. Underpinning its unique suite of initial programs was the trimester system, which allowed students to attend classes year round if they wished, or space their programs over a longer period than the four-year norm. This flexibility became a hallmark of the SFU educational experience and attracted many students who either wanted to study part-time or whose circumstances required them to combine work and study.

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Jamie Mulholland on flexible education

Jamie Mulholland
For Jamie Mulholland, a senior lecturer in mathematics, flexible education has meant experimenting with a flipped-classroom model that allows him to interact more meaningfully with his students.

Jamie Mulholland,  a senior lecturer in mathematics, and recipient of the 2011 Teaching Excellence Award, is renowned within the SFU community for his flipped calculus courses. Flipped classrooms are one example of flexible education—students watch lectures posted on Jamie’s YouTube Channel, while class time is spent solving math problems. Jamie began this initiative with the help of educational consultant Cindy Xin, and colleague Veselin Jungic. “We were all on it from day one so it’s equally as much their baby as it is mine,” says Jamie. To shore up the technical side he took the Ed Media Protégé Program and worked with Adam O. Thomas, a videographer from the Teaching +Learning Centre.

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How physical setting affects learning

Peter Jamieson
For Peter Jamieson, an internationally renowned researcher from the University of Melbourne, flexible education is about creating learning spaces that encourage new forms of interaction.

On April 23, Peter Jamieson of the University of Melbourne (Australia) spoke at SFU about “Pedagogy in Place.” His presentation, the first public event organized by the university’s recently launched Task Force on Flexible Education, was provocative in the best sense of the word. Jamieson’s research focuses on how physical environments affect learning. In his remarks to a diverse group of SFU faculty and staff he advocated fundamental changes to the design of learning spaces inside and outside the classroom—all with the goal of facilitating more active and effective forms of teaching and learning.
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“Relevance is the goal. Flexibility is the enabling strategy. Responsiveness is the practice.”