The Associated Press reported yesterday of Ian Newland, an Iraq war veteran who has embarked upon an online degree since his return home to Denver Colorado in the USA. So why is online education so well-suited for people in his position? And has he become the personification for the magic of e-learning?
It was December 4th when Newland was injured in Adhamijah. Whilst patrolling, an insurgent threw a grenade through the gunner’s hatch of his Humvee. Newland and most of his colleagues survived due to the quick acting of Spc. Ross McGinnis, who covered the grenade with his body in order to save the lives of the others. Upon his return, a non-profit organization, Sentinels of Freedom, awarded him a four-year scholarship.
Despite suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Newman now studies a business degree online, has a job for a realty firm, and still has time for his family and kids – and he’s not the only war veteran who is doing so. At Jones International University, an online institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in Denver, 350 of its current students are, or were, in the army. Which is almost 20 percent of its entire student body.
It is the accessibility of online learning that seems to be making it so popular, as students can study at work, home or even when they are abroad. Ivan Moreno also states how more than 710,000 online and traditional courses were taken by ex or current military personnel in 2007. Others estimate that in excess of 10 per cent of American students are taking online courses.
Newland admits that getting an online education seemed far-fetched, given his limited background in computers. But there were other hurdles to overcome also, including his short term memory loss and the onset of symptoms experienced by dyslexics such as seeing words backwards.
But aside from the accessibility of e-learning, especially in comparison to the traditional classroom, it seems that the flexibility of taking an online degree is most important to Newland. The Associated Press describes how Newland, “being able to write papers on renewable energy sources and space exploration while working allows him to spend more time with his family.” It would appear that Newland – in the USA at least – seems to have become a great example of how online education can really work, and if he continues to hit the headlines, he’ll no doubt influence many more after him.