Arrive Magazine - Keeping Learning on Track

Arrive Magazine - Keeping Learning on Track

All Aboard the New Train of Thought in Education

By David Gray, CEO, UMassOnline

Obtaining a college education on a traditional schedule is much like the express train. It’s great if nothing interrupts the journey. But what happens when a traditional college-bound student misses the train or has to disembark ahead of schedule?

In reality, everyone on this real-life Amtrak train today knows that life isn’t always as simple as the express train to anywhere, let alone to the ultimate destination of a college degree. There can be stops along the way: a marriage, children, a career, a lack of funds and other occurrences that can side track even the most enthusiastic, focused student in his or her youth.

This explains why new, college-level, lifelong learning options have emerged online. At UMassOnline, for example, the same college-level curriculum featured throughout our entire system of traditional schools and campuses and the same world-class faculty that teach in our traditional classrooms, are available online. In a way, you could say we have pioneered the educational equivalent of time travel and made it an option to the traditional educational track.  In short, the new train of thought in higher education today includes the alternative of  lifelong, online learning that enables anyone, at any time in life, from virtually anywhere to resume their educational journey.

This means that people who were sidetracked and who now wish to be learners again, can resume their pursuit of a college degree or certificate from a distance, no matter where they are, and without getting off the train of life to return to a life on campus. Called distance learning, fueled by an array of modern online technologies that significantly enrich the educational experience for many, this solution won’t make anyone young again, of course. But it does provide a time and place of learning that runs on your schedule, to your timetable, at a speed you set, for an ultimate destination you name, and in a way that acknowledges all the other commitments and priorities in the life of an adult learner.


It’s never too late, and it is never too soon to examine today’s online college degree and certification programs, especially from the most reputable, accredited and established schools like the University of Massachusetts where distance education has been in development for more than a quarter of a century and where today, from around the nation and the world, thousands of students are coming back to the future of school.

Date: 11/10/07