The ability to accomplish educational goals even when you are not able to attend classes at a school has changed the world. It doesn’t seem so long ago when I was working for the Air Force Library System that we hosted a conference on providing library services to military troops in the Gulf — that was after the 1st Gulf War. We gained Command attention for partnering through the BEPAC (that’s the Base Education and Planning Committee – the military loves those acronyms) to deliver the library component to college classes offered to deployed troops. As the AF was building tent cities in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, the Comm Squadron was installing lines and computers and we were sending library service right along with them.
I am personally thankful for online education. While an MLS was my goal, it was totally unavailable where I was living, until the UIUC LEEP program became available. MLS programs are much more available now — in the last week I’ve written 2 recommendation letters for candidates for library school, who have a multitude of choices available to them.
Finding candidates that meet educational requirements has become easier. Where previously finding a candidate with a college degree in rural communities was not always easy, many job postings now attract local applicants with academic accomplishments that exceed minimum requirements, often gained through distance learning programs.
And not all distance learning is academic. In my previous location, a small rural school district has gained statewide notice for attracting elementary and high school students who for various reasons want to pursue education online. Another young person I know does not attend her local high school for health reasons and is going to school online.
You’d think that all the distance learning was the product of the Internet. But not so! My mother, now an octogenarian retired teacher with a school media licensure, got her teaching credential through a 2-year Normal school. Some years later, when the state required a Bachelors Degree, she earned some of her credits watching college lectures that were broadcast on television very early in the morning.
Digging through a box of books at my mother’s house last weekend, I ran across the text for my first distance class – a brown-covered song book. It is way longer ago than I want to admit that I attended a 2-room country school in Wisconsin. Each classroom had a teacher that taught all subjects. We had no subject specialists, but once a week on Wednesday afternoons was the high point of my week. That was the day that we turned the classroom radio to the local AM station that relayed the WHA Wisconsin School of the Air transmission of “Let’s Sing” with Warren Wooldridge and Don Voegeli at the piano. We sat at our desks and learned music over the radio, singing along with the crackly AM radio transmission (well some of us sang, but some just mumbled). Some lucky kids got to go to regional “Let’s Sing” events. I wasn’t one of them. Years later, through a music scholarship, I received my Bachelors Degreee in Music Education. Thanks, WHA and Warren Wooldridge.