So we now can work in teams despite being continental distances away from each other but we do have to acquire the skills to do that. And if we fail to do so, that has a rather grave disadvantage, which is that…

Nothing has as dire an impact on productivity as poor communications.

This is a truism that applies to both distributed and non-distributed teams. Having bad communications will wreck any project, blow any budget, fail any objective. Now note that the reverse is not true: having good communications does not guarantee success. But having bad communications does guarantee failure.

Source: No, We Won’t Have a Video Call for That! – xahteiwi.eu

The article is based on a talk about distributed teams, so some of it isn’t relevant to education, but there is still a lot that can be. The difficulties of distance learning boil down to this quote from the article:

Effective distributed collaboration is not pretending to be in an office while staring into a webcam all day.

You will never be able to capitalize on work as a distributed team unless you kick some office habits. The key to distributed teams being effective is not that they happen to not be in the same place, as you’ll see from the remainder of this talk. So to expect success from the approach that you take the habits of an office, simply remove the element of locality, replace every face to face meeting with a video call and carry on, is ludicrous.

Trying to recreate the classroom experience online is never going to work. The groundwork for students working independently needs to be laid down first.

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