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The Massage Learning Center at NJMassage.Info is dedicated to all of my past Massage School teachers & Continuing Education lecturers who cared deeply about the art and practice of Massage Therapy and educating others how to help people suffer less and be more alive through Massage.

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Massage School Online
Massage School Online. 'FUTAB Desk' by Brandy.

Massage School Online: *Entry-Level Distance Learning Now Available!?

* Hands-On Courses Must Be completed In Person.

Massage School Online: Now Available for both Continuing Education for Practicing Massage Therapists AND Massage School for new recruits!

It used to be that Massage School Online was *only* available to current Massage Therapists seeking Continuing Education credits. However, there are, in fact, options available for online Massage School at this point in time, with a few restrictions. Such schools, such as The US Career Institute, and others, offer distance learning for Massage School.

This is great because many people have different life circumstances, and Online Massage School offers another option, and more options are always better. Most states do have severe restrictions on the type of Massage Therapy courses that may be taken online, both for Massage School, as well as for Continuing Education after graduation. (Please click here for our Continuing Education Resource)

In most states, boards have decided that entry-level Online Massage School is not available as an option to new students. This is not likely to change in the near future, however some argue that it should. Schools such as The US Career Institute deal with this by offering courses such as Business and Pathology online, and for the hands-on component of the curriculum, students travel to the school's campus, living there and taking an intensive schedule of hands-on courses.

Is Online Massage School the way to go? Personally, I attended a non-Internet school in New Jersey every day. I think the State Boards have the right idea requiring hands-on courses to be completed in person, and I shall explain why.

Students today are far more Internet-savvy, having grown up in a world with the Internet. Classroom learning has been supplanted by online courses even at some Ivy League Universities. So why hasn't this extended to the field of entry level Massage School? There are a number of serious considerations.

Massage School: A Personal Account Detailing Why Classroom Learning Is Essential

In my own experience, nothing could have substituted for being in the presence of my teachers and fellow students. Working on each other every day, we learned to provide important feedback. And our teachers were always there, ready to correct our posture or show us how we are missing the mark with a certain routine. Massage Therapy is a somatic practice. Online classes do not lend themselves well to learning or teaching hands-on work. "Hands-on" means just what it sounds like; without working with others at school, something will surely be missed. Of course, in the future with cyber-learning, some will say that it doesn't matter, however, even in such times, one can argue that it isn't the same.

The experience of being at a school was important for me and my classmates. While all of us were very happy to graduate and have more time for our own lives, ready for our futures, all of us were likewise sad to see that time in our lives pass. We were all from different backgrounds and going in different directions, but one thing we all had in common was our desire to become practicing Massage Therapists.

As a class, we formed strong bonds and felt like a family by Graduation. Should the whole experience of working together to get through it all be considered expendable? Does online learning provide that much of an advantage, that we should lose so much? For the sake of mere convenience, one loses the School Community. And so, the way the Online Massage Schools are set up presently, there is still the component of real learning with others.

Learning the science and art of Massage Therapy together at Massage School is an experience I shall carry with me my whole life. Students and teachers would help, any time anyone asked. We all tried to make the experience as endurable as possible. That entire aspect of the educational experience would be missing entirely with online education.

Many of us had never worked on another person before and some hadn't ever even received a massage. Physical boundaries are important and must be respected. As a Massage Therapist, you are expected to touch your client in a professional and clinical manner. Many people need a lot of practice before becoming comfortable with touching a stranger. Without the hands-on classes and clinic, I doubt more than a couple of people would have felt comfortable. That is a big hurdle to overcome, starting out.

And of course, Clinic provides therapist with an idea of what dealing with the public will actually be like. Without those classes, Massage Programs would be worthless. Of course, some Continuing Education classes may be taken online, but in reality Massage School Online for Continuing Education cannot approach Continuing Education courses that you take in person over the course of four days, eight hours a day, with a teacher and other Massage Therapists all in the same room. For hands-on techniques, it's a pronounced difference.

A New Option: Students Study Massage-Related Academics Online, Then Room At A Massage School For An Intensive Practical Component In-Person

As times change, the way we do things changes also. The U.S. Career Institute and other schools have pioneered the Online Massage School effort. With this program, and other such programs like it, one may study all of the academic courses (business, ethics, pathology, the body, anatomy, etc.) at home by distance learning over the Internet and then fly out to the school's location to partake in an intensive hands-on practical learning experience. No state will allow Massage Therapists to be schooled without a real, hands-on, supervised, and assessed Massage School experience.

Distance Learning Massage Schools Resource

The following is a list of Massage Distance Learning programs. If you know of a program that exists that is not listed, please conact us with the details. Thank you!

Aroma Studio, LLC - Home Study Certification
Warwick, NY 10990
Tel: 888/432-0292

Australasian College of Health Sciences
5940 Southwest Hood Avenue
Portland, OR 97239
Tel: 800/487-8839 or 503/244-0726
Fax: 503/244-0727

Myotherapy Institute of Massage
PO Box 9588
Salt Lake City, UT 84109-0588
Tel: 800/432-5968
Fax: 801/485-7504

Ohio College of Massotherapy
225 Heritage Woods Drive
Akron, OH 44321
Tel: 330/665-1084
Fax: 330/665-5021

US Career Institute
2001 Lowe Street
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Tel: 970/225-6300 or 800/347-7899
Fax: 970/233-1678

Massage School Online: An Opposing Opinion & Responses

Some do disagree that students should have to attend any in-person classes. In "The Myths and Realities of Online Education", authored by Whitney Lowe, LMT, which appeared in the January issue of MassageToday magazine, we are presented with counter-arguments, statements that attempt to prove that Massage School Online, without any real-life learning, should be an option for students.

Lowe discounts the idea of Learning Styles; whether or not this theory holds any weight, all learners benefit from learning a hands-on practice by hands-on learning of the material. It's like this: if you are going to teach me how to use Photoshop, using a computer would help. No matter how we learn, the work itself is kinesthetic.

"There is nothing uniquely kinesthetic about sitting in a chair and listening to someone lecture. Yet, this is common in classroom environments (and admittedly many online classes as well)."

There were classes that we had to take, such as Communications and Ethics, Business, Anatomy and Physiology, and others that were the sort of classes that focused on traditional classroom learning. I think if we had straight-up lectures, 3/4 of the class would have fallen asleep. And that would have been the half of the class even attending.

Good Massage Schools will have good teachers following a good curriculum that includes suggestions for a teaching method far more dynamic than a mere lecturer. With computers hooked up to the Internet with overhead projectors, our experience was vastly more of a multimedia experience that school was when I was in high school. My Massage School made the in-class learning active and fun, presented in a manner that involved all of the senses, and about as kinesthetic as that sort of material can be.

And, some quotes from the article:

"The fact that you're in the physical presence of others does not necessarily improve the educational experience."

I wholeheartedly disagree. Even a Continuing Education workshop benefits from the Group Experience interaction. A good instructor will make this so. Group projects, games, tutoring, and more were part of our daily experience. There is no way that the experience of learning Massage Therapy would have been as engaging and interesting without the group work.

Even so, for non-hands-on classes, distance learning does not seem out of the question, but is it the same? How could my Anatomy and Kinesiology teacher have dragged out "Mr. Bones" the classroom skeleton, in the middle of a lesson? Handing out moulded-plastic bones for us to feel and touch was important. As was working with a partner to locate muscles and bony landmarks. This is Touch Therapy; you need to actually work on others!

"The shyest student in a workshop who might never pose a question in that setting has far more freedom to express themselves and ask questions in an online course. "

Being an extremely shy person, I can't say for sure whether this is true. While I do find it easier to text than talk on the phone, the structured environment of the classroom was always a place I could express myself a bit more freely. In fact, I've known many girls who were very shy, who also excelled academically. Most college classes require some discussion and speaking. So although shy, most of those same girls seemed comfortable enough to get straight As. Still, Lowe may have a good point, because some students may not feel as I do, and find the classroom intimidating. This is a point worth considering.

Also, to be successful Massage Therapists, we have to learn to not be as shy, or not let our shyness get in the way of working. I do not have anything close to a disorder, I'm just really, really shy; anyone who does have a psychological condition limiting their activity because of social anxiety will find this profession quite difficult. You are going to have to deal with the public. In-person schooling is good practice. In-class interaction with classmates can help boost overall confidence in communication skills, or help establish a healthy base for respectful, mutual interactions. Sometimes, shy individuals are so out of practice that they benefit from the experience, and by the end of Massage School, seem a lot less quiet and a lot more able to interact in a group setting.

"Online education presents unique opportunities to produce activities that engage the student in applied, dynamic learning. There is a wealth of research on the advantages of engaged or active learning vs. passive learning."

This is true. Passive Learning, even in the classroom, has been shown to be less effective than active learning methods. However, it is likewise true that classroom learning can be engaging and dynamic, centered on activities that promote active learning.

This is not only true of online work. No matter how engaging the online experience is, one learns in isolation, by oneself, and everything is "virtual". Again, holding the moulded bones was an important learning experience; being able to get up out of our seats to see something the instructor wanted us to learn was also important.

"Perhaps those in opposition should look at Stanford Medical School which has produced some of the most innovative online learning strategies available for medical students. Is it really true that anatomy and the sciences can be taught online at Stanford, but is not good enough for the massage therapy field?"

True enough, however, if I were to attend this program, I would much rather attend real classes at Stanford. Why? Of course, the experience would have more depth. Even better, why not allow students attending the class on campus to also benefit from all of these engaging online learning strategies as a supplement to learning, and not a replacement?

"Most online courses are not very good." There is some truth to this statement – in the massage profession. But, this statement is entirely dependent on the instructor, the course design and the content quality."

Of course, I am in total agreement with the author that the worth of a course, whether online or in the classroom, is entirely dependent upon the course material, presentation, and communication skills and enthusiasm of the instructor.

I think the issue is that poor teaching methods show themselves more readily online, a weakly designed curriculum will quickly buckle and strain under the pressures of distance learning, because in the classroom the instructor can sort of "fill" in for these weaknesses by a strong knowledge of the topic, and adapting the lessons to cover weak areas of the curriculum, or explaining vague or unclear material. Online programs that can even come close to approaching real classroom learning require a great deal of focus and effort.

In summary, I think that the best development would be for classes to have Distance Learning activities that can support the work in the classroom. And while Anatomy was more fun and a far more engaging experience than could be matched by even the most cleverly designed online activity, I do think that such non-hands-on courses might be able to be worked into a Massage School curriculum as a distance learning component.

However, I would always suggest to a prospective student that the 100% in-classroom choice is always going to be better, for all the reasons cited above. Massage School Online may be appropriate for some, but many more might miss out on the classroom experience provided by a real-life non-distance learning environment.

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