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Distributed Learning Environments

Writing in the Digital Age: “In the conversation over distributed learning environments, it is important to begin by recognizing that the question is not IF our learning environments can be or should be distributed but rather HOW…Students’ learning experiences are shaped by these distributed networks, and our pedagogies circulate through these networks. This may seem self-evident, but our discourse on emerging technologies in teaching regularly makes the error of situating the choice between a new “distributed” environment and an existing cohesive one (and in the case of face-to-face teaching, even an imagined “immediate” environment).”
The author makes a point I’ve been whining about for awhile: traditional classrooms “pre-make” too many of the connections for learners. Learners, in my own humble opinion, do not need their connections fully pre-formed. A bit of stress, a bit of ambiguity, and a bit of confusion are healthy contributors to learning. As long as we have a feedback loop where learners can contribute and faculty can respond and adapt, we have the basics in place.
Connections are the starting point of all learning. It’s so obvious…and therefore so often overlooked. We really need to think about types of connections learners have with each other and content…and ways that we can extend the learning experience by critically analyzing and forming those initial connections.