This article considers the value of flexibility and free choice in learning, and examines the increasing recognition of the evolving and wide range of appropriate environments for learning, such as the workplace, the home, the community, and the virtual world. This ‘Lifeplace Learning’ is compared to the requirements and visions of the European Qualifications Framework and it is shown how this concept is ideally placed to satisfy, not only the European vision of freeing and equalising learning and qualification recognition, but also the goals of including more people in education, allowing for flexible and apposite learning, and the development of graduates who are ‘fit for purpose’. A model of Lifeplace Learning is described that is based on the utilisation of any chosen life place environment for learning, combined with learner negotiated objectives, enabling formal, informal and non-formal learning to be recognised through assessment, and by the awarding of credit where this is appropriate. The model has, at its core, the development of competence in independent judgement, critical thinking, personal autonomy and reflective practice.
It is concluded that, as traditional learning models deprive learners of a personal, autonomous and negotiated approach to learning (without which learners fail to develop critical competence in exercising independent judgment and critical thought considered essential and core to personal and professional development) and as Europe is striving to increase the recognition of many types of learning and ease transitions across national boundaries, this model could be an effective way forward to resolve the former and achieve the latter.