Reflections on Distributed Learning

A couple weeks ago we were talking about distributed learning in class. Distributed learning is defined by innovativelearning.com as “learning activities that allow learners and instructors to participate in learning activities for disparate locations”. We began reflecting on our own experiences with distributed learning:

What are your experiences with distributed learning?

I have actually had a few distributed learning experiences. My family likes to travel, and especially when I was in younger elementary grades, we would go away to a sunny destination around Spring Break, but sometimes avoided the Spring Break rush by going while school was in session. When this happened, I would typically take my homework with me, all in paper format with worksheets and textbooks and do homework on plane rides or at night at the hotel room. This was hard because sometimes I got confused and my parents could only help me so much. One time the class was learning volume in math in Grade Five while I was on vacation, and so I remember my parents teaching me about it, but taught me a different method than my teacher was teaching, which caused frustration and difficulty once I got back.

I also did an online Foods 11 course with a friend to fulfill the practical hands-on course requirement for my school. It was a good experience, and generally found my teachers very helpful and able to answer questions online.

But I think the coolest distributed learning experience I had was in Grade 10 for Math. At the time we were working in groups on a project that would involve us creating floor plans of what could be our new high school, as at the time the powers-at-be of my high school were considering how to renovate/re-do parts of my aging high school building in that course. To allow us time in class to work on this project (which also involved calculating surface area and volume and incorporating many different geometric shapes and taking being environmentally friendly into account), my teacher would post lessons on our classroom page on the school website that would cover the material we needed to complete our projects. These lessons would all be done by video and would be giving very detailed instructions walking us students through how to understand each mathematical concept.

What is the role of modality (face-to-face/online) and presence (absent/present) in K-12 learning?

I think it is very important to have opportunities for students to connect to their teachers and their teacher’s lessons in through distributed learning means (such as video calling into a class discussion), because then it would later avoid the hassle of trying to catch a student up on work later if they could not make it into the class one particular day. I think this would also be a way to boost inclusion of students who have special challenges (such as anxiety) that prevent them from being able to learn properly in a classroom setting.

I love the idea of incorporating ways of distributed learning into my own classroom one day, and I want to keep brainstorming ways I can do this to keep students up-to-date and involved in class discussions and community as much as possible.

~Bethany

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