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Learning Online

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 33 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 84,86,91
Liz Martinez
Date Published
May 2006
7 pages
This article explains the advantages and features of "distance education" (computerized online courses) for law enforcement officers, with attention to courses offered by specific institutions.
Distance learning works particularly well for law enforcement professionals, because their unpredictable schedules make it difficult to participate in educational programs that require traveling to a specific place for courses scheduled for specific dates and times. More than 36 colleges offer certificate programs or associate's bachelors, masters, and Ph.D. degrees in criminal justice and related areas. One of the hallmarks of distance education is the use of instructors who have real-world experience in the subject being taught. At Kaplan University, for example--which offers both undergraduate and graduate online degrees in criminal justice as well as a certificate in private security--a majority of the instructors have practical experience in the field in addition to academic credentials. Almost 98 percent of the faculty are current or former law enforcement professionals. Kaplan University has 7,000 undergraduate online students. The Northwestern University Center for Public Safety offers two online courses, one for new police supervisors and the other for accident investigators. The latter course consists of PowerPoint presentations that essentially reproduce what students do in the classroom during a 2-week accident investigation course. Although many enrolled in distance criminal justice programs are seeking education prior to applying for jobs within the field, some students are working professionals. In the period between September 2003 and January 2004 alone, distance education enrollment increased nearly 28 percent.