For servicemembers deployed or on crew shift, distance learning and online correspondence classes are a good way to continue their college education; however, they should just make sure they know what they are getting into
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4/25/2005 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPN) -- For servicemembers deployed or on crew shift, distance learning and online correspondence classes are a good way to continue their college education; however, they should just make sure they know what they are getting into, said Don Dooly. He is the education services officer at the education center here.
Many colleges, including most local schools, now offer distance learning courses over television and the Internet, Mr. Dooly said.
“Flexibility of time and location is a huge plus” for deployed servicemembers, said Lisa Simon, a guidance counselor with the education center.
Before a person signs up, however, it is important they know what the online course requirements are, Mr. Dooly said.
“The perception is that you login whenever you want, but there are some classes where you have to login at a specific time and interact with the instructor and the other students,” he said. “Some students find their class requirements conflict with their military duties.”
In contrast, students are more aware of the requirements for a traditional classroom setting.
“You know what’s expected, and you have (eye) contact with the instructor,” Mr. Dooly said.
“Time management is huge for online classes, and you have to understand how you learn,” Ms. Simon said. For some online courses, the only way of getting information is reading posted material.
“(Distance learning classes) can be really valuable, but you have to understand yourself: How do you learn, and how motivated are you?” she said.
“There’s always the temptation to procrastinate with distance learning,” Mr. Dooly said. “You say, ‘I can do it tomorrow,’ then ‘I can do it next week.’ Then, before you know it, your deadline hits, and you’ve only finished one out of five parts of the course.”
People also should make sure the online class they want to take is offered by an accredited school, Mr. Dooly said. Air Force tuition assistance will only cover courses at schools that are accredited by Department of Education-recognized agencies.
While some people do well in online courses, others might need the traditional classroom setting.
“One individual may really be able to pick up on a subject like math and be able to take a distance learning course,” Ms. Simo said. “Another person who has a harder time with the subject may need to take the class in a more traditional environment.”
“You need to evaluate yourself,” Mr. Dooly said.
To find out more about distance learning courses or school accreditation, contact the base education office. (Courtesy of Air Force Space Command News Service)