| Commentary: Cyberspace University Perfect for Peacekeepers |
Commentary: Cyberspace University Perfect for Peacekeepers
By Nelia Schrum, Army News Service,
Alexandria, Virginia -- (ANS) July 25, 2000 -- The Army unveiled a new $600 million distance-learning initiative July 10, dubbed Army University Access Online. The program creates a virtual classroom in cyberspace, making it possible for soldiers to attend college classes any time, any place, wherever they can plug in a laptop computer.
With the number of peacekeeping missions continuing to grow for the military, this program is just what military members need to continue their college education and still meet the demands of Uncle Sam's global commitments.
Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera asked American universities and Internet companies to submit bids to the Army covering college course curriculum and addressing technology issues. He envisions that the program will eventually reach more than 1 million people in the active Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.
Soldiers enrolled in the distance-learning initiative will be provided resources like laptops, printers and Internet access along with the usual help from college textbooks and academic counseling. Eventually the program may be expanded to include military spouses who often cope with the same frustrations service members face with frequent moves that interrupt completion of a college education.
The whole announcement got me thinking about how far we have come in just a generation and leaves me marveling a the "gee-whiz" possibilities. Since I've got almost a half-century under my belt, I come from the "white out and correction tape" generation.
Those were the not-so-good-old days when you burned the mid-night oil typing a term paper hoping the professor would overlook those nasty typos you tried to clean up and concentrate on looking at the meat of your thesis.
Standard fare for a high-school student wanting to go on to college was a typewriter, and if the student were really lucky, the model included a button you could push for an automatic carriage return.
The Army University Access Online initiative is sure to be a hit with soldiers and their families. Look for the program to be a boost for recruiting and retention.
Not since the introduction of the GI Bill that educated a generation of Americans returning from the battlegrounds of World War II has a military education program had so much potential to impact this country.
It should be widely applauded by the American public. They now can expect that when the program is fully implemented that soldiers and their families will return to their communities better educated and able to demonstrate the techno-savvy skills today's Army imparts.
(Editor's note: Nelia Schrumm was until recently assistant editor of the Belvoir Eagle.)