If we're lucky, learning is something that continues throughout our lives, not something that ceases when we leave the hollowed halls of academia. Earning a diploma or degree is only the beginning.
In past eras, a woman often had to put the general educational process on hold during her early adulthood, while she concentrated on acquiring and finetuning the specialized skills involved in caring for a family and building a home.
Today, thanks to modern technology, it's no longer necessary for a busy wife and mother, who may be holding down an outside job as well, to forego taking courses that will benefit her in many ways. Even if she doesn't have time to spend on campus, she can still increase her marketability and even earn a degree or occupational certification. Online learning opportunities are everywhere, and growing daily.
Women are "going back to school" without leaving home. There are programs designed to incorporate the flexibility that's essential to fitting college or trade skill development into a crowded schedule. From professional computer certifications to fully accredited doctorates from reputable universities, educators all over the world are getting into the online learning act.
"Classrooms without walls" present students a whole new way of learning that's totally unlike the traditional educational experience. Instead of sitting in a lecture hall, taking notes, online learners become actively and interactively involved in the learning process.
Reading assignments can be accessed in searchable text format or downloaded and printed. Complex multimedia presentations, e-mail communication with instructors and fellow students, live "chat" or even videoconferencing all open up a whole new realm of possibilities.
As our fast-paced lifestyles become ever more hectic, at the same time that employers place more emphasis on credentials and advanced degrees, online learning will become an even more attractive option for both men and women. In most societies, women are still in positions of primary responsibility for the children and household even when pursuing high powered careers. Thus, the advantages of a learning program that adjusts itself to your pace are especially important to us.
For more information about the wide variety of learning experiences that await you in cyberspace, check the following links:
Online Learning and Electronic Futures: http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/~elmurphy/emurphy/future.html
University of Berkeley: http://www.uofb.com/
Religious Education Online: http://www.crosssearch.com/Education/Online_Learning/
Cambridge Virtual Classrooms: http://www.ccae.org/virtual.html
DEBRA LITTLEJOHN SHINDER is a writer, editor and community college instructor who lives in the Dallas-Ft. Worth TX metropolitan area with her husband, Thomas W. Shinder, M.D. and her teenage son, Kristoffer.