Individual or common progression - Fleksibel utdanning Norge

Many providers of flexible education have extensive experience of teaching approaches where participants can start when they want and complete it at their own pace, i.e. free start-up and free progression. 

This means students have great flexibility. For some, this is a prerequisite for participation, while others find such freedom a burden. Many people need a learning environment that enables them to progress through a concrete, clear framework that guides them from start to completion.

Collaboration with others is an important part of the learning process. In a course or programme where everyone can start and finish when they choose to, facilitating social learning processes and collaboration can be challenging. Dalsgaard and Paulsen (11) launched Transparency in Cooperative Online Education as a way of enabling interaction between students. Here, the term transparency means that the students gain insight into each other’s learning processes. This allows for collaborative learning in free-progression programmes. In courses with many participants, students at the same stage of progress can still work together and be encouraged to cooperate. 

We see examples of institutions systematically creating opportunities for cooperation that compensate for the fact that students do not follow the same study progress, which indicates how much emphasis they place on the social aspect of learning. It also indicates that it is possible to create good collaborative environments for learning without the students starting and finishing at the same time. In a course with free start-up and progression, a discussion forum may be created for each module or course. There are examples of systems for voluntary cooperation being established in the learning platform, where students can find and contact each other. 

Many institutions offer online programmes with common start-up and progression from week to week, which also lets students choose their own work rhythm during the study week. However, the model makes it possible to establish classes and groups with common digital work and meeting arenas. This makes activities such as forum discussions and group assignments possible. Since the students will be working on the same topic in the same week, they can work together asynchronously. This can also be supplemented with synchronous learning activities, such as video conferences, chat groups and webinars, where students can provide input and questions. We see in this type of model that students often establish their own collaborative arenas, both synchronous and asynchronous. Evaluations of such courses show that students are often very satisfied with a structure that clearly shows what is expected of them.


  1. 11

    Dalsgaard, C. & Paulsen, M. F. (2009). Transparency in cooperative online education. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning10(3).

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