Ecampus students in the military

Rob Webb

Master Chief Rob WebbCurrent Student
Natural Resources Major
U.S. Navy

How long have you been taking Ecampus classes?  Since 2006

Where do you live, work and take online classes?  I live in Anacortes, Wash., and am currently on active duty in the Navy. In November 2008, I am retiring from the Navy with 22 years of service.  I have been hired as a park ranger with Washington State Parks.  I have taken online classes in five or six different states, Afghanistan, Germany, Turkey and on aircraft carriers.

Biographical information and educational background:  I am originally from Texas and joined the Navy when I was 17.  I was a high school dropout and figured that I would “just get my GED later."  Later happened to be 10 years!  I did in fact get my GED while I was deployed on the USS John F. Kennedy in 1993.  I have been stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in various squadrons for the last 20 years.  I now call Washington my home.  I fell in love with the northwest ever since I made a trip to Klamath Falls, Ore., in 1984.  

Fast forward to 2001, I began working on my Bachelor of Science degree in professional aeronautics with a minor in management and safety through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  I graduated from in 2006 with a 3.5 GPA and cum laude.  All of those classes were taken through distance learning.

For the last five years or so I have wanted to pursue a second career as a park ranger with Washington State Parks.  After reviewing the requirements for employment, I needed an education in a natural resources field.  I searched many programs from numerous colleges and decided that the natural resources degree that OSU offered was the best fit for my needs.  Through the decision to attend OSU in 2006, I have the required credit hours and have been successfully employed by Washington State Parks as a park ranger!

Why did you choose OSU Extended Campus (Ecampus) to take online classes toward your degree?  Being on active duty for the last 22 years, I am always on the move.  I need the flexibility to take my college with me and I have done just that.  OSU Ecampus classes have followed me through two combat tours in Afghanistan.  Having the ability to learn that far from home is probably one of the best reasons I could encourage anyone to work on their college degree.

As a Master Chief in the Navy, I also have the responsibility to train my junior troops not only personally, but professionally too.  I cannot think of a better way to help the younger sailors achieve higher education than letting them see that “the old Master Chief” is taking classes through online distance learning.  I guess what I am trying to say is I am setting the example for them and also allowing them some time to study and pursue their dreams.

What do you like about this method of education?  Having the freedom to take OSU with me worldwide really is a benefit.  Every instructor has a set course schedule and most even allow you to work ahead.  On another personal note, taking college classes through Ecampus allows me and my sailors something worthwhile to do on our off time.  

Describe an instance or situation where you think taking courses online is a key advantage over the traditional college experience?
  I think one advantage is that the faculty understands that I may be traveling overseas and may not have the Internet for five to seven days.  I don’t know that taking five to seven days off out of a physical classroom would be acceptable.  Also the interaction among students through the virtual classroom is a unique experience in this cyber world we live in today.

What would you tell someone who is interested in Ecampus?
  I would tell anyone to jump at the opportunity to achieve whatever educational goals they might have and that Ecampus is the way to do it!  Why not take the college with you? I would also explain that there is a level of self–discipline that is required in order to be successful with Ecampus.  Last but not least, communication with the instructors, advisors and classmates is the key to success for Ecampus.

Describe your experiences taking Ecampus classes online while on active duty:  My experience with Ecampus has been nothing but rewarding.  To learn in any environment (shipboard, in Afghanistan or in a coffee shop), to see your progress, to be able to set the example for the younger sailors and to see them grow educationally is probably the most rewarding aspect of taking classes through Ecampus.  I have always had the support of my chain of command and I have passed that support down to all of my sailors.

I did have an Internet failure in the middle of an exam and once in awhile, and through communication, the instructor was able to reset my exam and I was able to finish the class with an A!  I have to thank OSU for their great natural resources program which has allowed me to move forward in my life.  I am retiring in November and hope that many people strive to get their degree through Ecampus.

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