December 7, 2011 • Athletic AdministrationCoaching

More Coaches, Athletic Directors And Trainers Are Continuing Their Education Online

Online, video correspondence courses are growing at a rapid rate and offer an expansive list of classes

You wake up before the sun rises. After getting yourself ready for the day, you spend a few minutes with your family, then it’s off to educate America’s youth followed by practices, games and meetings.

After trying to pull your family back together for dinner (if it fits into everyone’s schedule), you still need to cram in some exercise, grade some exams and, finally, put your feet up for a few minutes at the end of the day. So, where does advancing your knowledge in the form of continuing education fit into your plans?

For many coaches, athletic directors and trainers, their continuing education needs are being met today not by brick-and-mortar buildings on pristine college campuses, but rather in a smaller room serving as an office in their house, or even on their couch with a laptop in front of them.

The flexibility offered by working toward master’s degrees or simply picking up some additional continuing educating credits via online or video courses has taken the athletics world by storm.

Plus, it’s not as if there are only a few classes available — you can learn about finances, administration, law, risk management, human resources, sports psychology, physiology, ethics in sports, social issues in sports, facility management and much more, all of which can prepare you for any position in athletics.

Derek Viveiros grew up in Fall River, Mass. He played baseball and set his sights on coaching the game. During coaching stints at Alderson-Broaddus College (Philippi, W.Va.) and Iowa Wesleyan College (Mt. Pleasant, Iowa), Viveiros decided he wanted to pursue his master’s degree, and he says he debated about doing it online or in a traditional classroom.

He chose American Public University’s online program and says the high school and college administration classes, as well classes dealing with legal issues and managing a coaching staff, prepared him for his next athletic venture — collegiate athletic director (at Bristol Community College back in his hometown of Fall River).

Due to the vast offerings and convenience, it’s easy to see why this style of learning has been increasing at a rapid rate throughout the last decade:

  • The Ohio University Master’s in Athletic Administration program started with 10 to 20 students per year and jumped to 83 new students in 2010-11. The expectations are for more than 100 new students to participate in 2011-12, according to Aaron Wright, the university’s MAA program director for the College of Business/Department of Sports Administration.
  • Cal U (California University of Pennsylvania) started its fully online program in exercise science in 2003 with 31 students. There now are more than 400 full-time graduate students, according to Dr. Barry McGlumphy, the program director and a professor within the Global Online Exercise Science and Health program.
  • American Public University’s Brian Freeland, the program director in sports management, says the school is not allowed to disclose student enrollment in specific programs due to it being a publicly held institution. He adds, however, that sports management is one of the 10 most-popular programs within the university and enrollment, as well as class offerings, have been trending upward.
  • Drake University offers its correspondence courses via video with enrollment numbers growing during the past five years, according to the university’s Chuck Sengstock. This school has seven courses available with four more “in the works.”
  • Classes Available Anytime

At a traditional university, students sign up for classes in the fall, spring and summer. Taking an eight-week, high-intensity class that fits exactly into a person’s schedule typically isn’t an option. With online and video correspondence classes, students are not confined to the “school schedule.”

American Public University offers monthly eight-week courses that begin on the first Monday of the month along with 16-week courses for some programs.

“This structure ensures that specific courses are regularly available to students year-round,” says Freeland. “Working adults can count on the added convenience of attending classes on a schedule that better accommodates their existing work and family commitments.”

For students who participate in Drake University’s video correspondence courses, an even greater flexibility is presented in that you have up to a year to complete a course and enrollment is open.

“I teach high school math and there are always tests to grade and lessons to plan. And then with coaching basketball and badminton at my school, I often had to dedicate awkward hours of the day or night (to my continuing education),” says John Butterfield, who works at Maine West High School (Des Plaines, Ill.) and takes video correspondence courses through the Drake University system.

“Drake gives you a full year to complete coursework, which was nice. Not that you’ll ever need that much time but you can set it aside if things get hectic in your schedule and come back to it.”

Both Ohio University and Cal U work more closely with semester schedules, but offer more freedom than being on campus. They are both “cohort-based,” meaning a group of students starts the program at the same time and are in the same classes, thus building a cohesive, strong-knit community, which makes it easier to interact throughout the program.

“Our cohort-based curriculum follows a semester schedule, but courses are taught one at a time over seven weeks each (two per semester),” explains Wright. “Students take courses year-round with short breaks between semesters, and finish in 24 months.”

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