Kelly Bostian: Oklahoma's online hunter certification offers flexibility
BY KELLY BOSTIAN Outdoors
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
10/16/12 at 5:59 AM
Go to Kelly Bostian's blog Original Print Headline: Online hunter course convenient
After a month in service and just a week after the program went public, about 3,500 people have completed the Oklahoma hunter education certification online.
For people ages 10 through 30, the online hunter education option means no more waiting for your schedule to meld with a scheduled class and no more eight-hour instruction session. And for all those folks who want to take a youngster out for a first deer hunt but never got around to taking the hunter safety course, they now have a chance to get it done on their own schedule.
"You can do it on your computer, on your smart phone, your iPad, whatever," said Lance Meek, education coordinator with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Seeing that hunter education certification was available online, my first cynical thought was, "how fast can my Dad get this done for me?"
Meek said adult supervision is encouraged but expects that cheating will be minimal. "I do hope your Dad takes it WITH you," he said.
If someone really wants to cheat the system they'll find a way to do it, he said. The beauty of the online hunter education certification option is that the convenience of it makes cheating unnecessary.
"It's good because hopefully your mom or dad, or both, are part of the learning process, on your own schedule, and it's something you do together that reinforces the importance of it," Meek said.
Among advantages the online option has over classroom sessions is the pace and flexibility. Meek said he knows it's hard for youngsters he has seen in the eight-hour classroom sessions nodding off through some of the lectures. It's also simply hard for some parents to find the time to take the course with their child.
"We try to offer a lot of options, but there is no way to schedule something that's going to work for everybody," Meek said.
The online course consists of reading material along with how-to and lecture videos. Meek said the Oklahoma course is special because this state is one of few that developed its own hunter education course. Other states purchase nationally marketed course material.
An example of that customization is a part of the course that features a how-to video created by the Wildlife Department that shows how to safely put up a tree stand, Meek said. Many other videos instruct hunters to always wear a safety harness from the time they leave the ground but don't actually show how to accomplish that initial climb and get the process started, he said.
"That's one of those things that is hard to teach yourself by reading about it, so it's neat that we can have our own video to show you how to do that," he said.
The online course likely will take younger students the same eight hours to get through the material as they would spend if they attended one of those all-day Saturday courses, Meek said. Most adults will be able to get through the material faster.
The course also doesn't allow students to fail.
"If you miss a question on the test, it takes you back and you have to cover that material again before you can go on with the course," he said.
The question also pops up with answers in random order each time, so there is no chance for process-of-elimination answering. "You can't just go A, B, C until you get the right answer," he said.
There is no age limit on hunter education classes in Oklahoma, but the online version for students younger than 10 limits them to the first four hours of study. Those younger than 10 will still need to come in for a half-day classroom session to get their certification.
Meek said 15,000 to 17,000 students are certified annually in Oklahoma. The online courses should make it easier but likely will not eliminate the need for classroom sessions.
"Probably not this year, but within the next few years I could see us having smaller class sizes and maybe not having to schedule as many as we do right now," Meek said.
Find the online course and other hunting license and outdoor education materials at the Wildlife Department website at tulsaworld.com/wildlife