Online education in the military is a growing trend related to the needs of modern life and military effectiveness. “Computer literacy is now considered an essential battlefield skill” (Stapp, 2001, p. 26). The modern use of technology is important for successful completion of military objectives and use of advanced weaponry. Online education also offers greater cognitive development for military students that seek to balance their military learning with their educational pursuits to create greater personal and professional advantages. A presentation by Susan Bricker (2012) offers some insights into the needs of online military learners and some of the challenges they face.
There are many similarities and differences between military and non-military learners. The greatest success seems to come from self-motivation and time management. Self-motivated learners engage in learning for learning sake by setting goals and engaging in those goals. Independent time management requires learners to start work early and continue to work on their assignments to finish them before their work is due.
Self-Motivation: Self-motivation is something some students have and some don’t. It requires the ability to stay on task and continue to work on defined goals despite the many challenges the student faces. Those who can stay motivated often show a confidence that other students do not. They are willing to work and challenge self-doubts despite the difficulties of the task.
Time Management: Time management is as important in the online world as it is in the working world. Time is a resource and students must make judgments between how and when they will use their time. Learning to make judgments to expend time on one’s goals and to start projects early is a major factor in online learning success.
Military students come with some unique challenges that are not necessarily faced by other online students. In addition to time management and self-motivation they must also deal with potential combat situations, alienation into other places of the world, and lack of support among some of their military companions who may encourage them to engage in other activities.
President Bill Clinton issued an the Executive Order 13111 on January 12th, 1999 that put in motion the President’s Task Force on Federal Training Technology. It states, “…provide leadership regarding the effective use of technology in training and education.” The program began the development of large-scale distance learning options within the Armed Forces to raise human capabilities (The White House, 1999).
Online education has some differences when compared to traditional education and requires different skill sets to complete. The good news is that students who make their way through online programs show that they are self-motivated and have time-management skills that enhance their new career knowledge. Military members can serve both their countries and themselves by educating themselves and applying that education to combat, military management, and within their future career choices. Learned higher skills can transfer to higher technology requirements of the modern era for a wide range of uses.
Bricker, S. (2013, Nov.). Responding globally to the online learning needs of military students. Virtual presentation offered at 2012 Global Education Conference.
Stapp, Katherine M. (2001, June). Benefits and costs of Distance Learning: A Perspective from the Distance Learning Literature Since 1995 – Annotated Bibliography. White Sands Missile Range, NM: Department of the Army. Retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA396197&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf
The White House. (1999). Executive Order 13111. Using Technology for Federal Government Employees. Retrieved from http://www.opm.gov/pressrel/1999/eo.htm