JOSHUA DOBBS

Distance and online learning has brought the reality of a post-secondary education to countless people who many of whom would have otherwise not been able to begin or continue an academic career (Huber, 2014). Not surprisingly, the military, with its various tasks and responsibilities, like vagrancy and deployment, have also embraced and encouraged online learning for its members, active and otherwise. Military members who wish to begin a degree path or continue to pursue graduate courses now have the capability to attend classes even if they are operationally deployed (TRADOC, 2011). Moreover, virtually all soldiers, despite geographic location, are eligible for military education benefits and online learning — even while serving in a war zone (Murray, 2013). According to 2012 data from Inside Higher Ed, 18% of military undergraduates took all their courses online, as compared to 12% of their nonmilitary peers (TBS, 2018). Each year, an average of 300,000 degree-seeking active-duty service members attend college courses on base, off-base, or online using tuition assistance benefits available through the Department of Defense’s Voluntary Education Program (Military OneSource, 2014). Hence, many learning programs and benefits are available and utilized by military online learners in a war zone. Education programs and benefits, such as, GoArmyEd, and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, have had major impacts on deployed military learners (Murray, 2013). Having been in the military for almost 13 years now, I wanted to prepare myself for life after the military. I hope to be able to have a more productive and higher-earning career. Therefore, I took advantage of the programs they have in the military. Since 2008, I have been an on and off online learner trying to complete my classes and eventually got my degrees in Aircraft Maintenance and Construction Technology. A few years ago, I embarked again in this online learning journey in wanting to complete a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. My short presentation will highlight my own challenges as an online learner in the military throughout the years and what challenges I have overcome and continue to overcome in the online classroom setting. Hopefully, my humble sharing of my experiences can be useful in the education field.