Editor'sNote: This is part one of a two-part article that addresses onlinelearningfor fitness professionals. This first part addresses onlinedegreeand college certificate programs. Part two addresses continuingeducationcourses and will highlight a few areas of specialization.

    Onlineeducation is hot! If you haven't taken a course or completed a trainingprogramin an online format, then you are really missing out. In 2007,almostfour million students took at least one online course, a 12% growthfromthe previous year. Online courses are becoming so popular becausetheyare often cheaper than on-site programs, require no travel, offer materialthatcan be accessed at the day and time that is most convenient to theuser(and accessed repeatedly), offer a variety of learning mediums and offerawider array of course options and often compress material into a shortertimeframe, thereby accelerating the learning process.

    Withthe proliferation of mobile applications, students can take theirlessonson the road via their iPod, mp3 player or cell phone. Many collegesanduniversities are transitioning courses to the online environment or arecreatinghybrid courses by integrating this technology into the classroom.Manyprofessional organizations are now making their content accessibleonlineand creating e-learning programs based on this content. However,becauseit is so easy to create and deliver a program through the Internet,someprograms often end up being more hype than substance and do notutilizeappropriate learning strategies. Be diligent about researching theorganizations,developersand instructors of the courses you are interested in.

    Thinkingabout going to graduate school but just don'tknowhow you can do it? Fortunately, more schools are now offering theirgraduateprograms completely online. The requirements, expectations andrigorsof the schoolwork are the same as traditional education and oftenthecourses are the same as those taken by on-campus students modifiedforonline delivery. Students are still required to have a bachelor's degree inanappropriate field, meet entrance requirements (GPA, GRE, TOEFL) andsubmitan application for acceptance.

    Tosearch for programs, try going online to www.worldwidelearn.comwww.directoryofschools.com or www.elearners.com.

    TheUniversity of Texas Telecampus is a good example of a qualityonlinegraduate program. Four schools within the UT system offer the Master'sDegreein Kinesiology. It is a 36-hour program that includes coursessuchas Exercise Physiology, Applied Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.Thereare thesis, project and non-thesis options, and students are given anywherefromsix to eight years to complete their degree.

    A.T.Still University offers a 14-course, 42-quarter hour Human Movement(MS)program that covers human movement science, functionalanatomy,physiology, kinesiology, functional assessment and program design.Theprogram offers a flexible distance education format within threeconcentrationtracks: Sports Conditioning, Geriatric Exercise Science andCorrectiveExercise. The core curriculum totals 30 hours with the concentrationmakingup the balance (12 hours).

    Costis typically determined per semester credit hour. It varies widelybetweenschools and may be impacted by residency status. For the most accuratefinancialinformation, try contacting the schools directly.

    OnlineCollege Certificate Programs
    Acollege certificate programis agroup of typically four to six online courses that have been created in aspecificcontent area and are delivered through the distance learning departmentof acollege or university. The courses are structured very similarly toatraditional college classroom, although everything has been adapted totheonline environment. These programs are either led or facilitated by aninstructor,who provides feedback on assignments, facilitates online classdiscussions,addresses student concerns, etc.

    EducationalFitness Solutions creates programs that are deliveredthroughcolleges or universities. These courses are taught by experts in thefieldand are administered through the distance learning department at theschool.Founder and industry veteran Ken Baldwin partnered with industryleadersto create and facilitate six certificate programs: Personal Training;AdvancedPersonal Training; Women's Fitness; Senior Fitness; Nutrition;andFitness Management.

    Thereare currently numerous options for online learning in the healthandfitness field, and these continue to grow. Although it may take some decentresearchon your part to find out which quality programs fit your needs, it iswellworth it as the benefits and advantages of online education are numerous.

    Continuedin Part 2>>

    CodySipe, PhD, ACSM-CES, ACSM-RCEP, is an assistant professor ofkinesiologyat UNC-Greensboro, specializing in fitness for older adults. He isanaward-winning fitness professional with over 15 years of experience as apersonaltrainer, group exercise instructor, director, manager and club owner.Hecan be reached at srfitsolutions@yahoo.com.