Experiences with Military Online Learners: Toward a Mindful Practice
Active military service members are increasing as constituents of online distance learning environments in America. For instructors, first-time engagement with military learners poses challenges and opportunities. This paper considers military learners through a framework of stereotype, labeling, and culture. It explores the use of stereotypes in new social engagements and provides a brief discussion of the cultural differences that military learners bring to the learning environment. It presents a small-scale phenomenological study of military learners’ experiences in online courses, and suggests that their values and concerns do not differ significantly from non-military students. It concludes that, as with all learners, the most effective way of engaging with military students is for the instructor to be actively present, critically aware, and genuinely open. This approach, mindful practice, is presented as a strategy for exploring and developing a deeper understanding of the military learner. Suggestions for such practice are offered in the concluding section.
MERLOT Journal of Learning and Teaching