July 22, 2006:
U.S. troops have long been provided with access to college courses, even when deployed overseas. But sailors at sea have, for obvious reasons, been at a disadvantage. The U.S. Navy has tried putting some courses up via the Internet. But ships at sea have limited bandwidth, and only certain college courses can be made available under these conditions. So the navy is trying a new tack. One experiment is loading courseware on a PDA. Sailors are sent the PDA, and work through it. The PDA includes quizzes and tests as well. In another experiment, the courseware is loaded on laptops. If the sailor doesn't have a laptop, one is made available for the duration of the course. In both cases, the students can still communicate with instructors via email.
There is already courseware on CDs and DVDs, for sailors studying technical subjects so they can qualify for promotions, or simply keep their skills up to date. Navy ships are also gradually going paperless, with computer files (on CDs, hard drives and PDAs) replacing paper manuals and other documents.