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What is Distributed Learning (DL) in Education?


Distributed learning (DL) in education is defined as “non–face-to-face communication between students and teachers through such modes as correspondence, online learning, outreach schools, teleconferencing and video conferencing. DL allows for flexibility with respect to where and when students learn.” (“What Is Distributed Learning (DL)?,” n.d.). DL is offered either fully online or blended delivery using “technology, teaching practices and resources to facilitate access to educational content” (“Distributed Learning,” n.d.). Some examples of the approach of delivery are online learning, video conferencing, synchronous learning, asynchronous learning, and self-paced (“What is Distributed Learning,” n.d.). It also enhances the learning experience for both “traditional and non-traditional students” (“Distributed Learning,” n.d.). Moreover, DL can help both educators and learners “overcome barriers to educational opportunities presented by distance, classroom space limitations, and time constraints” (“Distributed Learning,” n.d.).

There are many advantages of DL for students. First of all, lectures can be broken into smaller sessions. Further, learners can watch recorded sessions if they miss on participating in the live sessions. Moreover, teaching can take place from anywhere in the world. Thus, it truly offers flexibility to students on how and where they want to learn. Learners can continue to hold their jobs and study around their work schedules. It also has the “potential to expand the reach of the curriculum beyond the classroom and textbook and into the real world” (“Advantages of Distributed Learning,” n.d.). It also creates an online “learning community by providing opportunities for students to interact with each other” (“Distributed Learning,” n.d.). Finally, it helps students advance their technical skills (Clark, 2020).

Educators also have many advantages from DL. First, there is flexibility which allows teachers to prepare and deliver instructions around their personal schedules (Clark, 2020). She further tells us that “In a traditional school, a teacher oversees a whole class of students who raise hands, ask for feedback, pass notes, chat with their friends”. Secondly, educators save time in DL as there are less distractions. Thirdly, teachers can “reach more students, as there are no physical space limitations when it comes to online learning” (Morrissey, 2020). Finally, she tells us that DL enhances the communication as students are less hesitant to ask questions in remote learning environment compared to in-person learning.

As for the role of students in DL, they need to organize and plan in order to complete and hand in their homework assignments by the due dates. They also need to stay on top of their emails to have an effective communication with their peers and the teacher. Further, the student should “find a place that is quiet and free from distraction” (UTEP Connect, n.d.). They can hang a calendar in their study area to capture assignment due dates, or they can use “Google Calendar, Outlook, and more” (Moscinski, 2020). They should also schedule regular breaks as it will help them to retain the study material better. In addition, they should minimize distractions by turning the TV off and putting the phone away. Instead, they can use discussion boards to start networking and connecting with other classmates (Moscinski, 2020). Finally, they should connect with the teacher if they have questions or need further clarifications.

As for the role of instructors in DL, they help students succeed in their academic goals in blended-delivery and online learning. They also assist students in finding “their personal learning objectives” (Barkley & Major, 2020, p. 345). They further go on to say that teachers should ensure that students are on the right track. Instructors also act as a role model to motivate, and facilitate a positive learning environment and to promote student engagement. Thus, the instructor can motivate and provide feedback on learners’ academic progress. To keep students engaged and motivated, instructors can provide positive “constructive feedback” (Ellevate Network, 2017).


Advantages of Distributed Learning. (n.d.) Coast Mountain College. Retrieved from https://www.coastmountaincollege.ca/programs/discover/distributed-learning/what-is-distributed-learning

Barkley, E. F. & Major, C. H. (2020). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Clark, A. (2020, July 14). What are the advantages of distance education? Classcraft. Retrieved from https://www.classcraft.com/blog/advantages-of-distance-education/

Distributed Learning. (n.d.). University of South Carolina. Retrieved from https://sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/cte/instructional_design/distributed_learning/index.php

Ellevate Network (2017, January 17). How to Master the Art of Feedback. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-master-the-art-of-feedback_b_587e403fe4b0b39899c71d8f

Morrissey, J. (2020, August 20). 5 Benefits of online learning for educators. Retrieved from https://blog.neolms.com/5-benefits-of-online-learning-for-educators/

Moscinski, L. (2020, April 03). Being proactive, present, and purposeful as an online student. Pearson. Retrieved from https://www.pearson.com/ped-blogs/pearsonstudents/2020/04/proactive-present-purposeful-online-student.html

UTEP Connect. (n.d.). 7 ways to organize your study space for success. UTEP Connect. Retrieved from https://www.utep.edu/extendeduniversity/utepconnect/blog/april-2017/7-ways-to-organize-your-study-space-for-success.html

What is Distributed Learning? (n.d.). Coast Mountain College. Retrieved from https://www.coastmountaincollege.ca/programs/discover/distributed-learning/what-is-distributed-learning

What Is Distributed Learning (DL)? (n.d.). The Alberta Teachers’ Association. Retrieved from https://www.teachers.ab.ca/News%20Room/Issues/Pages/Distributed-Learning.aspx



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