Distance-learning site graduates to next level

The Army will expand its virtual university program to more than 30,500 soldier-students at 14 installations this year.

The Army launched eArmyU in January 2001, giving soldiers free access to online courses at about a dozen colleges and universities. This year, eArmyU will be offered at 32 colleges and universities nationwide, said Lt. Col. Anthony Jimenez, eArmyU program director.

By the end of fiscal year 2005, the Army anticipates that more than 80,000 students will have taken classes through the program.

IBM Corp. built and maintains the electronic learning portal under a five-year, $453 million contract. The company hired dozens of subcontractors and set up the portal by integrating 10 software products with the Army's three legacy systems.

The portal provides registration, tutoring and technical assistance. Credits are transferable among the participating institutions. Through the program, soldiers can earn certificates as well as associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees.

Each soldier participating in the program gets a notebook PC, printer, e-mail account, Internet access, books, plus academic and technical support. Credits are transferable among the participating colleges.

The eligibility requirements mandate that a soldier has to have three years time remaining in service to qualify for the program.

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