Monday, April 01, 2013

UIS offers active military and veterans credit for prior learning through online courses

The University of Illinois Springfield is making it possible for active military and veterans to earn credit for prior learning, while sharing their experiences with other service members.

Two new eight week online courses, starting June 3, 2013, will allow service members to share their experiences through an online discussion board. Participants will be allowed to moderate discussion and suggest topics.

Students will also be journaling and writing a portfolio about their military service. One class will be offered exclusively to combat veterans, while the other is open to any active duty service member or veteran enrolled in classes at UIS. Students may earn up to 12 credit hours for their participation.

"A course in which all fellow students have a military background will allow students to be more expressive, and provide insight into issues of which non-military persons have no understanding,” said Kevin Beeson, visiting clinical professor of Experiential and Service-Learning at UIS.

Beeson will be teaching one of the classes, along with Sarah Stover, visiting assistant director of applied study term. Army Master Sgt. Anthony O’Neal, a UIS junior Liberal and Integrative Studies major, and Pastor Allen Ebbler of Casey, Ill., a U.S. Army Veteran who served in Desert Storm, came up with the idea for the classes and approached Beeson.

“Being asked to be a part of the study group and formulating the ideas was something I took as a great honor. It was as if the faculty was reaching out and asking how can we help the veteran from the outside looking in,” said O’Neal.

O’Neal and Ebbler hope the courses will help create networks between students with similar military experiences, so that they can provide support for each other.

“When you get back from active duty, there is a space in time where it is hard to adapt to civilian life. To be able to come into a class where other students have the same background is an invaluable aid to helping through that transition period,” said Ebbler.

Beeson and Stover will not play the role of a therapist, but will direct students to mental health resources when necessary.

“We will also limit our participation in the discussion board, instead allowing the students to carry the discussion without our input, recognizing that they are the experts with regard to military experiences,” said Beeson.

O’Neal realizes that not all service members will want to take part in the class, but he thinks it will serve as a good resource for those who decide to join.

“When I attend this class I hope to see that the idea of helping others be able to communicate stories of what they have experienced will actually help to move them on,” said O’Neal. “I know that not every veteran will jump on this class, but I am sure the word will spread. UIS has definitely helped me already and I have just been a part of the startup process.”

UIS offers 24 bachelor’s degree programs, 20 master’s programs and 1 doctoral program. Service members and veterans may apply for admission by calling 217/206-4847 or by visiting Current UIS students may enroll in the credit for prior learning courses starting on April 1, 2013.

For more information on courses available to active duty military and veterans, contact Kevin Beeson at 217/206-6695 or

1 comment:

Dean Chilton said...

As a combat veteran of the VietNam war my opinion of this course is highly affirmative. Comming home from combat after 15 months to this outlet would have been extremley helpful. We veterans had so much hardship to deal with that I don't think any veteran had any stability or closure. Dean Chilton