Distributive Learning

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computer_webcam_250x400Distributed Learning is not just a new term to replace the other ‘DL,’ distance learning.
Rather, it comes from the concept of distributed resources.

Distributed learning is an instructional model that
allows instructor, students, and content
to be located in different, noncentralized locations
so that instruction and learning occur independent of time and place.

The distributed learning model can be used in combination
with traditional classroom-based courses,
with traditional distance learning courses,
or it can be used to create wholly virtual classrooms”
– Saltzberg, S., & Polyson, S. (1995, September). Distributed learning on the World Wide Web. Syllabus, 9(1), 10.

Chris Dede emphasizes that distributed learning is based
not only on new media
but also on new pedagogy.

Distance learning emphasizes the learning environment,
whereas the focus of distributed learning is on pedagogy











What MUST be done
and what could be done

Distributed Learning Continuum

Onsite – at participants’ location

  • may include web and other media enhancements (synchronous)

Offsite – at host’s specified location

  • may include web and other media enhancements (synchronous)

On-line – Internet and Mobile interaction

  • text-based – threaded discussion (asynchronous) as well as chat and instant message (synchronous)
  • animations and videos – asynchronous
  • virtual worlds – ie avatar  in SecondLife – synchronous
  • web conference – synchronous

Hybrid On/Off site and Online

  • Blended – immersion @ location w/online interaction before, after, or both before and after immersion (synchronous and asynchronous)
  • Simulcast  – in class and online (synchronous and asynchronous)


  • Active Engagement
  • Multidirectional (feedback!)
  • Anytime/Anyplace
  • Multi-Perspectival
  • G/local – local/global
  • Multigenerational Access
  • Bridge Sacred/Secular conversations, particularly around ethical issues



  • Technological – Internet access is not ubiquitous
  • Financial – Hardware, software, training, bandwidth…
  • Ethical – Privacy, anonymity, cyber-theft, addictive behaviors, commercialism,  behavioral norms
  • Moral – Access, digital divide
  •  Time Investment
  •  Information Overload