Penn State Intercom......December 12, 2002

First World Campus students
earn online master's degree

Penn State participates in eArmy University

Kathi L. Samuels is traveling from Washington, D.C., to the University Park campus to receive a master's degree in adult education during fall commencement ceremonies. There's nothing unusual about that, except that this will be Samuels' first visit to campus. She earned her degree completely online through Penn State's World Campus.

Samuels is among the first 10 students to earn a master's degree in adult education from the College of Education through the World Campus. Her fellow graduates hail from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Florida.

She will participate in Graduate School commencement ceremonies at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at Eisenhower Auditorium.

The adult education graduates faced many challenges in reaching their goal, Gary W. Kuhne, associate professor of education and lead faculty member for the master's degree program, said. The students juggled family, work and community responsibilities with their course work, as all students must do. The big difference for the World Campus students was they also had to adapt to learning in an online environment, including mastering the technology used in the courses.

Samuels appreciated the flexibility of online learning, because while she was enrolled in the program, she and her husband were relocating.

"The online feature enabled me to maintain a flexible lifestyle," Samuels said. "I was able to keep up with my studies while on the road."

Kuhne noted, "The online degree program helps to break down barriers to higher education for working adults. In fact, we're seeing increasing student interest in the master's degree in adult education program. We have more than 160 students enrolled from 30 states and several countries. And we have very high levels of student retention, which is a sign of the program's success. Students are indicating their satisfaction with what they are learning and with how this learning model is fitting into their lives."

There are students enrolled from the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the West Indies.

Many of the World Campus students are in their 30s to mid-40s and are interested in acquiring education to advance in their field. Other students are enrolled in the program through the eArmyU (see story below) and are using education to enhance their military careers, as well as prepare for the future after retiring from the Army.

The first course in the 33-credit master's degree program was offered through the World Campus in January 2000. There are nine core courses in the program, which is linked to the World Campus Distance Education Certificate. Many students in the adult education program also elect to complete the graduate Distance Education Certificate, Kuhne said. In addition to completing the adult education core courses, students earn 12 credits in other courses and electives. They have the option of progressing through the program at their own pace, but all students enrolled in a course complete the course together. Instructors structure the online learning environment to include threaded discussions and live chats, in addition to group projects and other interactive activities, Kuhne added.

Help in adapting to the online learning environment is available through World Campus 101, a self-study free online course designed to orient new and prospective students to the World Campus and the skills needed to be a successful participant in an online learning environment.

For the full story by Deborah A. Benedetti, check the Web at http://www.outreach.psu.edu/News/

Penn State participates in eArmy University

The master's degree in adult education program is the first online degree program the Penn State World Campus is offering to U.S. Army personnel through Army University Access Online, according to Gary E. Miller, associate vice president for Distance Education and executive director of the Penn State World Campus.

"The potential for this online education program for the Army is enormous," Miller said. "We are committed to offering Penn State's signature academic degree programs and courses to Army personnel, so they can learn while they serve their country. The World Campus is a perfect fit with the Army's requirement of flexible anytime, anywhere education."

Penn State is part of a consortium of 23 accredited higher education institutions and more than a dozen software and hardware companies under the direction of IBM, a business services provider and consulting company. In 2000, the federal government committed $453 million for a five-year contract to create Army University Access Online, also called eArmyU, in partnership with the consortium.

The Army, with more than 398,000 enlisted soldiers and noncommissioned officers, is the first of the armed forces to launch an online education program. Information about the program can be found on the Web at http://www.earmyu.com/.

The landmark online learning service opened in January 2001 for Army personnel stationed at Fort Campbell, located on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line, Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Hood in Texas. In 2002, eArmyU expanded to eight more Army installations, including two international sites in South Korea and Germany. By 2003, eArmyU will be available Army-wide. Students accepted into the eArmyU are issued a laptop computer, printer and Internet browsing software. The Army pays all expenses involved. The program is being rolled out slowly, but will eventually involve more than 80,000 students.

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