The Distributed Classroom: Teaching Across Time and Space

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

In this session, David Joyner, co-author of The Distributed Classroom, will present and lead a discussion of the book, emphasizing the distributed classroom matrix and how it facilitates greater opportunities for online education.


David Joyner is the Associate Director for Student Experience in Georgia Tech's College of Computing, overseeing the administration of the college's online Master of Science in Computer Science program as well as its new online undergraduate offerings. He has developed and teaches CS6460: Educational Technology, CS6750: Human-Computer Interaction, and CS1301: Introduction to Computing, all online.

Extended Abstract

What if there were a model for learning in which the classroom experience was distributed across space and time—and students could still have the benefits of the traditional classroom, even if they can't be present physically or learn synchronously? In this presentation, we will present our vision of a future in which education from kindergarten through graduate school need not be tethered to a single physical classroom. The distributed classroom, first proposed in the book of the same name, would neither sacrifice students' social learning experience nor require massive development resources. It goes beyond hybrid learning, so ubiquitous during the COVID-19 pandemic, and MOOCs, so trendy a few years ago, to reimagine the classroom itself.

In this presentation, we explain how recent developments, including distance learning and learning management systems, have paved the way for the distributed classroom. We propose that we dispense with the dichotomy between online and traditional education, and the assumption that online learning is necessarily inferior. We describe the distributed classroom's various delivery modes for in-person students, remote synchronous students, and remote asynchronous students; the goal would be a symmetry of experiences, with both students and teachers able to move from one mode to another. Through this proposal, we offer an optimistic, learner-centric view of the future of education, in which every person on earth is turned into a potential learner as barriers of cost, geography, and synchronicity disappear.

The presentation itself will be structured to loosely follow the structure of the book, but with a greater emphasis on actual examples of the distributed classroom in practice. We will present the distributed classroom matrix, alongside examples of where we have seen distributed classrooms, from our own courses taught in Georgia Tech's massive online MSCS program to courses shared across campuses and the globe. Rather than just a presentation, we will also specifically solicit viewpoints from the audience and provide feedback on ideas for new initatives in distributed classrooms.