This article is about the instructional model known as 'distributed learning'. For learning that is spaced only over time, see spacing effect.
Distributed Learning is an instructional model that allows instructor, students, and content to be located in different, noncentralized locations so that instruction and learning can occur independent of time and place. The distributed learning model can be used in combination with traditional classroom-based courses and traditional distance education courses (in which it is also deferred to as blended learning, or it can be used to create entirely virtual classrooms.
There is much confusion globally over distinctions between and definitions of distributed learning, distance education, open learning, e-learning, blended learning and other related terms. Many terms are used more commonly in particular geographies. Distinctions can arise when the chosen model focuses on either or both time and geographic distances. Distributed learning may be dependent on time if it includes synchronous sessions and further time dependent if the course is paced. The oldest and most commonly used of these terms, distance education, can be used to describe distributed learning as defined above. 'Distributed education' lacks a correspondence school tone and history and thus is perceived as making more use of communications and especially synchronous communications technologies. Further research using both terms 'distance' and 'distributed education' returns better results with consider overlap.