Throughout all of my schooling I have only taken two distributed learning/online courses, both of which were in high school. I found it was very difficult for me to stay on task and stay up to date on all the assignments and information when there was no one leading me. I also found it very difficult to reach out and ask for help or clarification with assignments and topics when there was not specific teacher for me to ask. I am a kinaesthetic learning, meaning I learn best with a hands on approach and when I am able to do an activity in order to learn, distributed learner was not right for that learning style. For students who are more visual or auditory learners, meaning they can see or listen to the information and then understand, these courses would be very useful.
Distributed learning offers more opportunities for students to learn new materials and also offers ways to take more courses than needed when on a time crunch. If a student is ill then they will still be able to complete these courses at home without falling behind with their schoolwork. I feel like before signing up for a distributed learning course, it is important to know yourself as a learner as well as know whether or not you have to drive to stay on task and not put it off.
I believe in K-12 learning (but more specifically in K-9) face-to-face contact with a teacher, supervisor, and with peers is very important for cognitive development. While incorporating some distributed learning is okay, students should still have in class time. As students age and progress online learning tools become more easily available to them and technology is being incorporated into their face-to-face classes. How a teacher designs around modality will have a large impact on learners want to engage as well as the efficiency of work being done. While with age it is important to allow students to take more responsibility, it is important to also offer them an outlet (other than google) to plug their questions, comments, and concerns.
Video conferencing in classes is a very useful tool to have guest lecturers provide information to a class without having to travel to a destination. This is a great way for teachers to incorporate multi-media modality without losing their own time with the class.
Before deciding on the incorporation of distributed learning into a learning plan a teacher must know their learners. Not everyone learns the same, and to many students this could have a very negative impact on their education. In high school I was on the honour roll, I was a close to straight A student with many volunteer and work hours. Throughout this time I took two online courses. It took me two and a half years to complete one of them and I never completed the other.