NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) — More than 65 U.S. Naval War College (NWC) distance education faculty members from throughout the U.S. convened at NWC for a four-day faculty workshop, Aug. 11-14.
The gathering marks the centennial year of the NWC's distance education program, established by order of the secretary of the Navy in 1914.
The intent of the workshop was to promote uniformity in classroom approaches and to bridge the gap between the distance and more traditional, in-residence experience.
"The goal is to extend the reach of the NWC education and give our students the closest thing to an in-residence experience as possible," said NWC president Rear Adm. P. Gardner Howe III during his opening remarks. "Keeping in mind the challenges of their daily duties and responsibilities."
During the 2013-2014 academic year, the NWC's College of Distance Education (CDE) enrolled 5,372 students and graduated 1,147. With the Navy continuing to implement force-shaping measures, more emphasis is being placed on distance education and the role that education plays in developing leaders in all ranks and rates.
"More explicitly than ever before, the Navy recognizes the importance that education plays in the development of leaders," said Howe. "Education is a key component of the Navy Leader Development Strategy, and provides the broadened perspective and habits of mind required to succeed in the complex and dynamic operational environment."
Prof. James E. Hickey, director of CDE and a 1992 graduate of the program, attests to this. As a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola, he completed two courses in what was then called the "Non-Resident Seminar Program" before completing the third and final course as the assistant strike operations officer on the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) during operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
"It is a simple fact that not all officers can get to Newport for a year to get their professional military education. In an ever more complex world, many officers will have to look to non-resident education," said Hickey.
For CDE faculty members, this means coming together annually to reconnect with colleagues, receive updates on curriculum changes, and share experiences on ways to approach various case studies to assure that students receive a consistent educational experience.
"Being able to come together to work with our peers is an extremely invaluable experience," said retired Cmdr. Curt Fritsch, a CDE professor of strategy and policy at the college since 2002. "The interchange of ideas keeps us up to date with current teaching practices and what is being taught in the program."
"Our goal is to do our absolute best for our students. There's no better way to do that than by getting us all back together once a year."
NWC's distance education programs encompass the Fleet Seminar Program, a web-enabled course, a CD-ROM course, and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California.
The programs are modeled on the Newport resident program, and are available to active and reserve military officers, Department of Defense civilians and congressional staffers.
Interested applicants are encouraged to visit www.usnwc.edu/cde for more information and to apply.
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