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Side Story: Software

Photo courtesy of the Masonry Institute of Tennessee

For those masons and mason contractors who wish to extend their education but may have exhausted local resources or can't accommodate classroom time into their schedule, several options are available at your convenience on the World Wide Web.

Online courses on every topic imaginable are available through various organizations and universities around the world. These programs are very advantageous because many schools allow the student to work at their own pace — an hour here, an hour there, until the coursework is completed. Another obvious advantage is that it allows you to pursue continued education from the comfort of your own home or office.

One such online educator is the Masonry University, sponsored by the Masonry Institute of Tennessee, which offers two masonry classes online.

"The Masonry University allows mason contractors to get training from their home or during their downtime at work," says Dr. Heather J. Brown, Assistant Professor of Engineering at Middle Tennessee State University and author of the courses. "It helps mason contractors keep up with the current trends and up-to-speed in the local market."

The two current courses are "Masonry Construction and Materials," geared more toward architects and engineers, and "Design and Construction of Segmental Retaining Walls (SRW)." The University is mulling over the possibility of a third course, which would cover changes in building codes, that would be available in the summer.

"People have really talked positively about the SRW course," says Brown. "They've said that it is good information and a nice update on the state of the practice."

The SRW class is a nice introduction to online education for mason contractors, as it is a shorter course with only a one- to two-hour commitment. The interactive course contains links to National Concrete Masonry Association TEK notes and costs $29.95 per student.

For those not ready to take the Internet education plunge, these classes are also available as a correspondence course through the mail.

For more information on the Masonry University, visit www.masonryuniversity.com.

Other non-masonry, business and industry related courses and degrees are also available at your fingertips. Have you ever thought about extending your knowledge — and your business — by getting either an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree, but just didn't think it would be accessible? Those days are over.

Here is just a taste of what you can find online: a bachelor's in construction services from Thomas Edison State College; an associate's in office management from Eastern Oregon University; a master's in accounting from Keller Graduate School of Management; or a master's in business administration from Auburn University or the University of Texas.

Most colleges and universities are getting into the swing of things and almost any degree is available online, so check out some of your local colleges, or visit www.degreeinfo.com for a searchable database of accredited schools.

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