Productivist Education vs. Contextual Learning: Evaluation and the Place of ‘Flexibility’ in Discourses of Online Education Systems

Daniel TEGHE
Bruce Allen KNIGHT

This paper provides a largely conceptual discussion which focuses on how productivist education systems can be perpetuated in approaches to online education. We hold that, since notions of flexibility can shape educational contexts, evaluators of online courses would benefit from the knowledge that flexibility is a concept that bears a particular meaning in productivist perspectives. The paper highlights the difference between using new technologies to continue to ‘educate’ and using those technologies to address the needs that account for learners’ contexts. We argue that education (in its productivist tradition) refers to teaching according to pre-determined notions and rules of what learners should do in order to become knowledgeable about (and often have the ‘right’ attitude towards) something. Relevant learning, on the other hand, refers to teaching through interactive processes that are sufficiently flexible to account for the myriad of individual learning approaches/styles, capacities to adapt to or to mould a learning environment and the varying degrees of technological proficiency relevant to accessing online courses.

KEYWORDS: Productivism, Flexibility, Evaluation, Online Learning Context.