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Digital disruption meets the academic timetable: start learning anytime

Many universities claim to provide flexible learning opportunities, but most still require students to keep pace with prescribed curriculum delivery and assessment deadlines, and few have disrupted the academic
calendar. In this paper, we report on an innovation called ‘Start anytime’ that was purposefully designed to break from a trimester model and instead give students the flexibility to study in their own space and
pace online. Here we report on measures put in place to support students during self-paced online study, and share insights from research investigating students’ expectations and experience of ‘Start anytime’.
For many students, the self-management required for self-paced study was a challenge, but for most students those challenges were out weighted by the benefits of flexible learning. Importantly, the majority
of students thought that access to learning support and teaching staff was the same or better in ‘Start anytime’ units than in a timetabled unit, and many students found that self-paced study was easier and
more enjoyable. Thus, we have shown that where it is carefully designed and supported, self-paced online learning and disruption of the academic calendar, can have considerable benefits for experienced adult learners who have difficulty fitting study around their busy lives.



Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE). International Conference (35th : 2018 : Geelong, Victoria)


Open Oceans : Learning without borders


159 - 165




Deakin University Geelong, Victoria

Place of publication

Tugun, Qld.

Start date


End date




Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2018, The Authors


Malcolm Campbell, Julie Willems, Chie Adachi, Damian Blake, Iain Doherty, Siva Krishnan, Susie Macfarlane, Leanne Ngo, Marcus O'Donnell, Stuart Palmer, Lynn Riddell, Harsh Suri, Joanna Tai

Title of proceedings

ASCILITE 2018 : Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Open Oceans : Learning without Borders - Innovation, Practice and Research in the Use of Educational Technologies in Tertiary Education