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Distributed learning is an instructional model that gives students access to a wide range of resources-teachers, peers, and content such as readings and exercises - independently of place and time. The popularity of distributed learning environments (DLEs) in both professional and academic settings has steadily increased due to 1) the rising demand from traditional students as well as working adults for postsecondary and professional education, 2) advances in information technologies, 3) the Internet's ubiquity, 4) the emergence of high-capacity wire and wireless networks, and 4) the pervasiveness of networked personal computers in both businesses and homes. DLEs must balance with student attributes and instructional strategies. Many universities and colleges, for-profit organizations, and corporate training departments now offer DLE courses and programs. Online distributed learning uses information technologies to provide students with Web-based access to content and resources such as assignments, software simulations, and tests exercises. This approach lets students choose the time, pace, and frequency of their learning activities.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2004