Master Sergeant Eric Madden has been in the Air Force for 16 years. He’s currently stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey as a Health Service Manager in the Medical Group. With a job requiring frequent travel, Eric never thought it would be possible to perform his duties while also pursuing a college degree. But thanks to the technology of distance learning, he’s currently enrolled at Burlington County College.
“The only way I would be able to complete my degree is with distance learning,” Madden explained. “With how much military members move around it would almost be impossible to finish your degree without being able to take classes online. Distance learning makes it so you can stay in one school and meet all your requirements and not have to worry about transferring.”
Madden is hardly alone. According to the 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group, the number of students taking at least one online course is now more than 6.7 million.
“The rate of growth in online enrollments remains extremely robust, even as overall higher education enrollments have shown a decline,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group.
As the demand for online learning increases, higher education publishing companies have been forced to keep up, creating new ideas and technology to make the distance learning process easier for both teachers and students.
Pearson Learning Solutions has created an Online Learning Exchange, which provides teachers shareable and editable course content and materials to use in distance education courses.
“Learning is no longer limited to four walls – learning can happen anywhere – and it already is happening everywhere, everyday,” said Todd Hitchcock, Senior Vice President of Online Solutions for Pearson Learning Solutions. ”The growth of online learning underscores this need for quality, flexible education programs that meet the demands of our 21st-century workforce.”
Now that he is able to get his degree, Madden feels as though it will help him become better prepared for his everyday duties. He also looks towards the future, and when he retires from the military the degree will make him much more marketable.
Madden encourages other members of the military–or anyone else in a situation where they cannot physically make it to a college campus–to consider distance learning. “This is a huge plus because it gives you education for your job and for your future,” he said. “It is also a big deal for the military. Distance Education helps individuals contribute at a higher level.”