Army Distance Learning: The New Way to Complete Your College Degree
Distance learning and online education are two of the fastest-growing learning methods today. According to a 2008 report from the Sloan Consortium, over 3.9 million students took at least one online class during the 2007 fall term. In fact, most colleges and universities (approximately 96 percent) now offer some form of distance learning or online education programs.
What Is Distance Learning?
Distance learning is not new. As early as 1728, a teacher named Caleb Phillips ran an advertisement in the Boston Gazette looking for students to take a new short-hand course he developed and lessons would be sent to students weekly.
Today, by using modern institutional and Internet technology, Army distance learning can provide soldiers and their families the method with which to get a degree without regard to time or distance. You may see the same lecture, take the same quizzes and exams, and even participate in the same group discussions with your "classmates," you'll just be doing it online.
How Can Servicemembers Benefit from Distance Learning?
As a servicemember, the biggest personal benefit of online learning is the ability to study when it is convenient for you as well as adapting to you when your mission, lifestyle, responsibilities or duty assignment change. The Army created its own online Army colleges portal in 2001 when it introduced GoArmyEd.
Now servicemembers receive course materials, progress reports, request Tuition Assistance and receive guidance from Army Education Counselors all through one access point. eArmyU, a part of GoArmyEd, lets you designate a home college, but you can earn anything from a certificate up through a master's degree by taking Web-based courses from multiple colleges. eArmyU currently offers over one thousand degree plans from regionally accredited schools.
Working in conjunction with GoArmyEd, the College of the American Soldier (CAS) provides business and management-related degree plans as part of the Career Non-Commissioned Officer Degree Program. CAS provides flexibility as far as when you have to complete your degree along with:
- Maximizing college credit transfer
- Maximizing credit for Army MOS and NCOES courses
- Minimizing on-campus residency requirements
With online or distance learning, you are not restricted by time or place--and those are the two most appealing features of distance learning--the flexibility to study when and where you want.
Professionally, you can get a head-start on your civilian career by getting your undergraduate or graduate degree sooner via distance learning. Mobilizations will no longer prevent you from continuing your education while deployed.
How Does Distance Learning Work?
Most Army distance learning programs are conducted online. Once you have your GoArmyEd account established, you'll log in and enroll in a class or program. You'll then access course materials, a syllabus and other reference sources or required reading all online. Usually, everything you need to complete the course can be found in one place--making organization easy.
Depending on how the course is set up, you may take quizzes and exams online and get instant feedback on how well you did. Otherwise, tests may be emailed to you by your professor with the complete tests being sent back. Your results are generally returned by email.
Some schools offer the ability for distance learning students to "sit-in" on a class that's being held in a traditional classroom setting as you view the class in real-time through video tele-conferencing. Often, if you are not able to view the class during the live lecture, a recorded version is available to view anytime after the lecture is complete. Many classes even use an electronic bulletin board or professor-moderated forum where you can post questions and get answers from fellow students or your professor. Others incorporate Web mail, or use regular email, where you can talk privately with a professor or another student.
At some schools, a learning management system (LMS) is used. These systems allow you to receive assignments via the Internet and submit the required responses back through the LMS--no matter if it is a quiz, test, essay or report. Another distance learning tool some schools embrace is the live chat feature where at a prescribed time, the professor is online to discuss course issues with you or your classmates.
With the technology that exists today, the possibilities are almost endless. However, even with all the technology, the success or failure of a distance learning program comes down to the involvement of the professor and distant learning students.
Why Might Distance Learning be a Good Option for Servicemembers?
Distance learning may be a good educational option for Army families because, due to re-stationing every few years, going to a traditional brick and mortar school may be impractical. Every time you transfer to a new college, you risk losing credits for classes that don't transfer to your new school and having to take the classes all over again. Not only is this frustrating, it takes you longer to get your degree.
With distance learning, all you need is your computer and a reliable Internet connection to access classes from anywhere in the world.
The other great benefit with the distance learning option is flexibility. Since many schools have everything you need posted on their Websites, you have access to everything anytime without regard to time zones. So regardless of when you like to study, your virtual professor is always ready and waiting. Many soldiers are getting degrees through Army distance learning programs without ever setting foot in a traditional classroom.
Distance learning is here to stay. The only element that changes is the course delivery method. If you have not tried taking a course using the Army distance learning portal GoArmyEd, you should. If you are like many servicemember students, you won't set foot in a classroom again.
This list does not include all schools that accept GI Bill funding or VA Benefits. For a more complete list of schools, click here.
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The University of Saint Mary is a Catholic institution in Leavenworth, Kansas, that has been educating students since 1923. Guided by the vision of its founders, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, USM seeks to inspire students and to prepare them for value-centered lives and careers that will benefit our global society.
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This list does not include all schools that accept GI Bill funding or who are participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program or VA Benefits. For a more complete list of schools, click here.
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