Tidbits, Resources, and Discussion for ELI Faculty

Friday, January 23, 2009

Distance Learning for Soldiers and Veterans

You may have heard in the news about the recent passage of a new GI Bill. You probably didn't hear about one specific detail that has been causing some controversy in higher education circles: while those covered under the GI Bill for educational expenses are generally eligible for a housing allowance, those taking distance courses will not receive that allowance. (As many have quipped: apparently, distance learning students are supposed to live in virtual houses.)

InsideHigherEd has an interesting piece today that discusses this decision in some depth and raises the argument that the low success rates in distance courses/programs justify this policy (which is likely to push students away from distance learning). This is just one more example of what I talked about in our faculty meeting last week regarding the importance of improving student success wherever we can. We are under scrutiny from many sides, and we need to showcase our good work and make our case to those who might not understand distance learning, as well as constantly working to do better in all the ways we support student learning and student success.

2 comments:

Cindy Miller said...

Just an anecdote to go along with this. I had a student who had some sort of scholarship and a part of it was given to day care for her small child so she would have study time. The part of the child care that corresponded to time spent on her ELI course was denied her when whoever the powers-that-be discovered it was a distance course. I even confirmed for them that, indeed, I expected her to really (as opposed to virtually?) study for it. It didn't do any good. She lost the day care.

Laura said...

A housing allowance? I suppose the thought behind this is that traditional age students who "go away" to school instead of continue to live with their parents then have the added expense of housing. But what about those who do NOT "go away" but attend local schools. Do they still get the housing allowance? If so, then why shouldn't distance learners (perhaps neither should)? However, if this is for older students (as I imagine those on the GI bill typically would be) then most of them are already in their own housing - be they enrolled on campus or in virtual classes. As such, this would equate to discrimination against students taking distance classes. But perhaps only those who "go away" to school should really be eligible for a housing expense (to cover dorm room or local housing beyond their permanent residence that they also maintain on their own). OTOH, with regard to the child care expenses being denied (re: Cindy's comment) I can understand that one. One reason students take distance courses is because they need to stay home with their kids. They can study when the kids are napping or playing quietly in the same room.