Are you in the Air Force and want to meet your educational requirements without extended absences from your stations or families? There’s an app for that.
The Air Education and Training Command, the Air Force’s training component, has been exploring easier ways to educate forces through advancing technologies. In the future, there may be a way for airmen to be able to take their required development classes through small increments via a mobile device.
Air Force Col. John Thompson is the adviser for AETC’s future learning program. On the idea of distance learning, Thompson said, “If I could break down that training into 10- or 15-minute segments, and enable you take them on your cell phone, anywhere and anytime, I think a lot of people would be interested in doing that.”
The idea is to provide more educational opportunities in light of recent heavy mission requirements. The AETC is also looking for ways to incorporate social networking sessions and training through virtual worlds.
“As we start to look at virtual worlds, I relate it back to when flight simulators were new,” Thompson said. “We have a new technology that is coming on line, and we have to figure out where specifically to use it, or how.”
He further explained how the use of virtual worlds would be incorporated into the program’s success.
“I cannot release a weapon of mass destruction on a base, but in a virtual base, I can,” he said. ” I can simulate things in a virtual environment that I can’t do for real. And hopefully, as a result, I get better, more realistic training for that unfortunate chance that we might actually have to do that for real.
While these new technologies may drastically reduce classroom costs and extended absences, Thompson made a point to note these will not replace necessary classroom instruction. The programs will only simplify the programs that are able to be taught through distance training.
“We obviously have courses where we need instructors present, and they need to be able to answer questions right away,” he said. “So one of our experiments is to duplicate that in a virtual classroom, where students would put on a headset and talk to their instructors the same way they would in a classroom.”