Formal Institutionalized Learning: This model is characterized by campus based delivery system with formalized learning outcomes and high emphasis on credentials and credibility. The model is used extensively for all levels of education (adult, children, trades and academic learning). It is most common in prevocational education but also the predominate model for continuing education and for industry and trade based training. It is usually place based, but can be distributed by the traveling teacher moving to a location that is accessible to a group of learners, or less frequently by video or audio distribution of discourse. The learning sessions are nearly always synchronous though many are using asynchronous resource and interaction tools in so called blended learning applications. Formal classroom based learning usually places high degrees of emphasis on credentials, and credibility so as to maintain exclusive control of both formal and hidden curriculum of educational outcomes.

Open Learning. Open learning models are confused by the different use of term to describe education and learning systems with quite different qualities and characteristics. UNESCO defines open learning as “instructional systems in which many facets of the learning process are under the control of the learner. It attempts to deliver learning opportunities where, when, and how the learner needs them”. The “attempts to deliver” indicate the continuum of learner control that defines many operational Open learning systems. They generally have the following characteristics, with particular institutions highlighting some subset of the following:
  • open admission (few or no prerequisite courses) required
  • uncapped admission and enrolment
  • high levels of learner choice on program curriculum
  • recognition of prior formal and non-formal learning
  • low or no on-site and institution-specific residency requirements
  • continuous enrolment and self-pacing
  • low cost
Open learning is often associated with distance education, but using the criteria above, one can find examples of distance education programs that are not ‘open’ and conversely campus based systems that are open.
Finally, Open learning systems are usually credited and credentialing function is also very important to students and open learning institutions.

Informal or Self Directed Learning
Informal learning is by definition unsystemized and depends upon learner’s self motivation to direct their own learning. Sometimes referred to as autodidactism, informal learning is the most common type of learning, in fact it is so common that many participants do not even recognize that they are learning when they investigate or research a topic of interest. In a self-reported survey of 1562 adults in 1998, Livingstone (1999) found that Canadians were averaging about 15 hours a week in informal learning activities. Self-directed learning is however rarely credential zed or recognized by accrediting bodies, professions or employers. The recent and continuing availability of learning and information resources on the Net has created opportunities for very significant improvements in the capacity to engage in informal learning (Candy, 2004). Proponents of Self-directed learning often hold antagonistic attitudes towards formal education systems which they see as monopolistic, coercive and inefficient. This sense was captured by Alberta Einstein’s famous quote that “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”