Back to school ? via the Internet
- By Bryant Jordan
- Jun 26, 2000
Defense Department officials charged with providing education assistance
programs to military personnel are hoping to improve the operations of base
education centers by linking them to special career assistance and academic
databases via the Internet.
Military personnel, civilian employees and dependents use the databases
for civilian school and college planning. By keying in their military career
experience, they can draw from the database a listing of schools — two-
and four-year colleges, professional schools and graduate schools — with
programs that parallel their experience.
The program, which has been around for about 10 years, relied on floppy
disks and CD-ROMs that were "pressed" once a year with information. That
meant any curriculum changes made after a CD-ROM or disk was created and
distributed would have to be updated only on paper, according to Vince Harmon,
program manager for guidance support at the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional
Education Support (DANTES).
But by accessing databases via the Web, Harmon said, any changes would
be known immediately.
Harmon said the existing contract for the program, called the computer
assisted guidance information system, is expiring. That makes it a good
time to look for additional services, he said.
"Maybe we'll get them, maybe we won't," he said. Even if DANTES does
get a contract that includes Internet access to the database, it will still
require that the database be available on CD-ROM for distribution, he said.
Given the military reductions, which include civilian as well as uniformed
personnel, the career assistance program is also of value to those who
staff base education offices.
Having the databases, and having them as up-to-date as possible, permits
better management of the counselors' time, Harmon said.
Today, "you've got fewer people working in operations because of downsizing.
Counselors have less time with people, so the more you can give [military
members] as a complete package, and allow them to pursue and look up things
before talking to a counselor, it's better for them," he said. "And it gives
them the opportunity to better motivate themselves to do the work," he added.
DANTES is looking for a system that is menu-driven and commercially
available off the shelf, according to its request for proposals. In addition
to the curriculum information on schools and colleges, it will also include
military and defense civilian occupation information.