Integrating Formal and Non-Formal Learning for ESL Learners


I would like to introduce the idea of integration of formal and non-formal online learning, where participants can start from any of these four points, and choose to move along these 4 roles.

  1. as a student taking a course
  2. as a student taking independent study with a supervisor,
  3. as a non-registered learner participating online in non-formal, public parts of the network by pursuing their own studies without formal supervision
  4. as a participant enrolled in a non-credit MOOC or other free, open public learning event

As a student taking online courses at Athabasca University ten years ago, I was part of a cohort of learners. After the third course, I moved on to enrolling in an online seminar, then to independent study. The nature of learning changed in each case, as I participated in the online learning network in various ways to various degrees to engage in knowledge building and network building. The mentoring, the building of non-formal and formal learning partnerships, and the development of skills to successfully navigate, curate, moderate and engage in autonomous learning – all of this helped me become far more confident as an online learner. I wanted to continue the learning, and continue to participate as a non-student. I was invited to participate as a guest blogger and informal facilitator, interacting with students and others based on interest. I was fully autonomous and not tied to coursework, or enrolled in formal study. As a free agent, I realized I needed to self-regulate and be aware of formal boundaries. I needed to ask for invitations to join some groups, and did not venture in to no-visit zones. I was able to make use of the online resource library database, and draw a lot of additional information from the professional blogs and feeds of faculty, students and others. It was a treasure trove and it got me started thinking about the role of the personal archive, which is ultimately content produced and revisited and downloaded and transferred to other spaces later by students. The value of the archive grows for individuals and for a group of new learners seeking exemplars and previous work.


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