August 31 is National Trail Mix Day, Eat Outside Day, Independence Day for Trinidad and Tobago, and World Distance Learning Day. This article is about one of those–if you picked distance learning, give yourself a point! If you're reading this article while eating trail mix outside and celebrating the independence of a Caribbean nation, you win! Johnny, tell them what they've won...

Getting back to our main topic, according to National Today, "World Distance Learning Day was established to raise awareness of the learning resources and options available to students and to celebrate how far the concept of distance education has advanced over the years." Much has recently been written about remote learning and online education regarding the swift shift teachers and students underwent due to Covid-19 governmental school closure mandates. And, in all honesty, the reviews haven't all been glowing. For teachers, inadequate training on utilizing online platforms, experiencing challenges in presenting content in a virtual yet engaging manner, and mitigating cheating were some causes for frustration.

Numerous low residency degrees have emerged making advanced degrees more attainable for those with jobs, families, or other commitments.

While some faced challenges with distance learning, I venture to argue that some students and teachers discovered the many advantages of remote learning and online education. Distance learning offers many benefits including schedule flexibility, attending an out-of-state school without moving, increased technological use and understanding, engaging with professors and classmates from broad and diverse communities outside of your current city, and classroom mobility. Monday, you attend class in your favorite coffee shop, and Tuesday occurs on your floor after a hard workout. Be sure to grab a towel to avoid sweating on your computer!

What sets established distance learning apart from the quick-converted curriculums during Covid-related lockdowns is program design and trained faculty. These schools didn't just transform in-person course offerings into online classes; reflection and research resulted in certificate and degree options that successfully merge in-person and online content. Whether you're looking for a fully online course or a hybrid of online and in-person learning, there's no doubt that education accessibility has dramatically increased due to virtual learning. Let's look at some options* at multiple levels of learning for those who wish to supplement or engage entirely in virtual education methods.

*Disclaimer: The following are not endorsements by DancePlug or the author.

Low Residency Degrees

Numerous low residency degrees have emerged making advanced degrees more attainable for those with jobs, families, or other commitments that make full-time, in-person schooling challenging or impossible. Often, these programs include virtual coursework and mentorship alongside in-person residencies and are good options for dedicated and enterprising students. In addition, those with established careers looking to deepen their research or require extra letters after their names to open job and promotion prospects are also good candidates for this education model. With low residency choices possibly receiving a bump in interest after this past year of distance learning, here is a sampling of some dance-specific and dance-inclusive certificate and degree programs that embrace distance learning design. 

Length of study, plus a pertinent descriptive paragraph from the linked website are featured.

Masters Programs

Hollins University

  • Dance M.F.A.
  • Two-Summer and Three-Summer Track options
  • These tracks are designed for emerging artists, teachers, and dance professionals to accommodate their performance schedules. Professionals have a chance to expand their portfolio as they develop their careers. A panel of Hollins faculty and professionals in the field determine acceptance into these tracks.

Montclair State University

  • M.F.A. in Dance
  • Two years including summer study
  • Montclair State University's new, innovative low-residency M.F.A. in Dance is designed especially for mid-career dance artists, dance teachers and other dance professionals in transition. The program is ideal for those interested in thinking about the shape and future of dance as a discipline and as a field. The program aims to provide experienced dance professionals with the knowledge, resources and credentials you need to expand your career — whether to teach dance in higher education, expand your artistic worldview, or become an innovative leader, researcher or advocate of dance.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

  • Master of Fine Arts in Dance
  • Students must complete degree requirements within seven years of enrollment
  • The M.F.A. in Dance is structured to meet the scheduling constraints of working dance professional performers, choreographers, and educators: A block of on-campus and distance learning coursework is available during the fall and spring semesters, in addition to the intensive summer graduate course offerings.

Pratt Institute

  • Master of Science in Dance/Movement Therapy
  • Two and a half years, March - July
  • Both the M.P.S. in Art Therapy and Creativity Development and M.S. in Dance/Movement Therapy masters are 60-credit programs providing a synthesis of creative, aesthetic, and psychotherapeutic theory. Courses offer a thorough theoretical frame­work that is translated into personal and practical application through an experiential process. Artwork and/or movement is done in every course and is used to learn therapeutic skills. Students focus on a wide variety of populations and are required to work with a different population for each of the two years of fieldwork/internship/practicum. Both programs are for students who want a broad body of skills, balanced with a strong theoretical framework.

Lesley University

  • Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Dance/Movement Therapy
  • Three years
  • Our dance/movement specialization encourages you to become a critical thinker, creative and reflective practitioner, and instrument of therapeutic and social change. Your professors will be prominent therapists in the field, with specializations that include children, adolescents, adults, older adults, conflict resolution, trauma, family systems, somatic and spiritual development, and more.

Goddard College

  • Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts
  • Five semesters
  • The MFAIA program is designed to help you articulate and engage with an original vision, discover new creative opportunities, and refine your critical and expressive skills. As you work to develop your personal practice, the program supports you in understanding a broad range of strategies and dialogues that inform contemporary art at this historic moment.

Doctoral Programs

Lesley University

  • Expressive Therapies Ph.D.
  • Four years
  • Lesley University's doctoral program in expressive therapies provides you with the opportunity for in-depth study, artistic growth, and professional development regardless of your arts therapy specialization. Guided by your own interests and experience, you'll conduct relevant research and contribute new scholarship to the field. Whether you're looking to further your career in higher education or become a leader in an arts therapy discipline, our program is designed to help you meet your goals.

Texas Woman's University

  • Ph.D. in Dance
  • Five to six years, including dissertation
  • Our low-residency Ph.D. program is structured to meet the needs of students wanting to maintain their professional responsibilities while pursuing doctoral studies. On-campus residencies consist of summer intensives, as well as one-week campus visits during the fall and spring semesters. Students will be continually engaged in their coursework throughout each semester and will work closely with faculty and their doctoral colleagues in the program. The residential intensives, interwoven with web-based interactions, will facilitate scholarly discourse intended to connect artistic practices and diverse theoretical frameworks with each student's professional and research interests.

University of the Arts

  • Ph.D. in Creativity
  • Three-year, dissertation only program
  • The Ph.D. in Creativity is a low-residency degree for advanced interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences. This first-of-its-kind Ph.D. offers unique features not found elsewhere: intensive immersion in creative thinking, cross-disciplinary workshops for dissertation development, and professionally accomplished advisors from outside the university whose selection is tailored to best serve each unique dissertation.

What sets established distance learning apart from the quick-converted curriculums during Covid-related lockdowns is program design and trained faculty.

Dance-Related Certificates

For those looking to supplement their knowledge through documented certification, distance learning offers flexibility that in-person programs do not. Eliminating the need to travel, one only needs a computer and connectivity to continue their education. 

Antioch University

  • Certificate in Dance/Movement Therapy
  • Three years
  • Dance/movement therapists are passionate about dance and the unique healing power that it offers. Discover this therapeutic approach that integrates the mind, body, and spirit through verbal and nonverbal approaches. Learn how to help others and enrich lives through a fuller experience of embodiment, by employing your love for movement and dance in a therapeutic context. This unique low residency program provides the opportunity to learn how to integrate skills and passion for dance into clinical practice.

Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

  • Principles of Dance Medicine: Clinical Management of the Dancer Patient
  • 90-day access to complete coursework
  • Our Principles of Dance Medicine: Clinical Management of the Dancer Patient is a C.M.E. and C.E.U. course for healthcare and dance practitioners who wish to understand the unique risk factors associated with dance training. The course also provides up-to-date and innovative treatment plans for the dancer patient. This course is targeted to certified athletic trainers, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, podiatrists, and orthopedic surgeons, as well as dance educators, somatic practitioners, and dance scientists.

National Dance Education Organization

  • Certificate in Dance Education
  • Complete 33 NDEO-endorsed continuing education units
  • The Certificate in Dance Education (CiDE) supports all dance educators working in diverse teaching environments, enhances credentials, and attests to a well-rounded training experience, all of which inevitably benefit the students of the dance educator who earns a Certificate in Dance Education. The Certificate in Dance Education (CiDE) is conferred on a candidate who successfully completes 33 Continuing Education Units (C.E.U.s) of OPDI™ coursework.

Personal Training + Certifications and Courses

Suppose a career shift is in your future, or you want to learn more about taking good care of your body or get some anatomy-related teaching tips. In that case, online courses on the study of movement, movement performance, and the coaching of others are widely available. As dancers, we are experts at movement replication. Dedicating oneself to understanding how our joints move, planes of motion, fitness, stability, and injury prevention can only improve your performance. At the same time, this knowledge may encourage movement innovation and the revisiting of warmup and cross-training practices as related to dance. Because dancers already hold embodied knowledge, the 2-dimensional video movement demonstrations and anatomical drawings included in these online education courses may be more easily comprehended.

American College of Sports Medicine

  • Certified Personal Trainer
  • Multiple individual study plan options
  • ACSM Certified Personal Trainers® (ACSM-CPT®) live their passion for health and fitness, and for helping others enjoy a better life. In this role, you'll become your passion and enjoy a career leading others in achieving their health and fitness goals. A personal trainer certification from ACSM means that you'll have the practical and scientific knowledge to work in a variety of fitness facilities, including health clubs, gyms, university, corporate, and community or public fitness centers, and positions ranging from freelance personal training to full-time and beyond.

National Strength and Conditioning Association

  • Certified Personal Trainer
  • Exam must be taken within 120 days of registering for the course
  • NSCA-Certified Personal Trainers (NSCA-CPT®) are health/fitness professionals who, using an individualized approach, assess, motivate, educate and train clients regarding their personal health and fitness needs. They design safe and effective exercise programs, provide the guidance to help clients achieve their personal health/fitness goals, and respond appropriately in emergency situations. Recognizing their own area of expertise, a personal trainer will refer clients to other health care professionals when appropriate.

Gray Institute

  • Multiple Functional Movement Courses
  • Multiple courses, various lengths
  • Gray Institute is the world's foremost authority of Applied Functional Science®. This information and education is delivered in a variety of formats, including the institute's mobile app, exercise library, live events, certifications, specializations, mentorship program, online modules, DVDs, and through other functional products and equipment. Gray Institute exists to influence the lives of others through movement. Whether you are a movement practitioner or consumer, you will be able to take your knowledge to the next level with Gray Institute!

Sugarfoot Therapy

  • Teacher Training Workshops
  • 8-hour workshop specifically geared toward dancers and dance teachers
  • Sugarfoot Therapy is seeking dancers, dance teachers, and movement enthusiasts to bring this revolutionary training program to your own students and/or practice. Through our Teacher Training Workshops, we will provide you with the training and tools you need to implement our program with confidence and support.

Of course, an article on the benefits of distance learning would not be complete without mentioning DancePlug’s contributions and offerings! Whether you’re traveling and unable to attend a live class, a new dancer seeking supplemental training, or you’re interested in trying out a new dance form but are too nervous to do so in person, DancePlug has multiple style and level options.

Finally, while many of you may have powered down your computer with immense joy once in-person offerings reopened, perhaps you should bookmark this article for when the ghost of your education’s future whispers in your ear encouraging additional learning.

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