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The Marine Corps will broaden residential options for captains and majors attending professional military education classes, which will allow them to finish the required courses faster and closer to home.
More importantly, it will give a greater number of officers the opportunity to experience a residential learning environment.
Currently, captains attend Expeditonary Warfare School and majors attend Command and Staff College at Marine Corps University at Quantico, Va., or they enroll in distance learning versions of the two schools.
The so-called “blended seminar” approach now being put in place will allow these officers to combine self-study through distance learning with shorter-term residential experiences that will allow them to go to school and focus exclusively on the subject matter. The residential portion of the courses will be offered in blocks at four regional campuses: Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Camp Butler, Okinawa; and Quantico, Va.
The initiative aims to boost the number of officers who have access to a residential experience, said retired Col. Terence Kerrigan, director of the Marine Corps College of Distance Education and Training. The announcement was made in Marine administrative message 450/13, dated Sept. 10, and signed by Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
The programs will give officers the opportunity to complete courses that normally take two years in just one, as they temporarily leave their jobs to strictly focus on military education. And there are benefits to being a resident student, Kerrigan said.
“When you’re a resident, that’s what you do for a living,” he said. “You don’t have other job responsibilities to impact study and reflection.”
Students are focused, he said, “able to dive deep into certain areas because that’s all they’ll be doing.” They will also be able to go on field trips with their peers that complement their studies, he added.
Most officers will still take distance-learning versions of the EWS and CSC curricula, Kerrigan said, but twice as many will be able to participate in residential learning programs. EWS will have 190 blended seminar seats and CSC will have 50.
The first blended seminar programs will start at Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune by next year. In the following residential year, Marines in Japan will be able to attend school at Camp Butler. Blended courses will also be offered at Quantico, in addition to the existing residential option there.
Offering more residential education options has been a priority of Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, but deployment cycles and readiness needs have made it difficult to require residential PME. Blended seminars should help ease those problems, Kerrigan said.