This article was originally published in the Skywrighter, Friday, 1 June 2018, page A7
HQ AETC’s Continuum of Learning Engagement Team, Mrs. Shelly Petruska, Capt. Renee Cassidy and Lt. Jacqueline Crow, led a small group discussion with AFIT’s School of Systems and Logistics, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, May 1, 2018. The CoL engagement team is traveling to all AETC units to educate the command on CoL initiatives, and collect best practices, challenges and innovative ideas for CoL across the Air Force.
The Air Force Institute of Technology welcomed the AETC Continuum of Learning engagement team, led by Mrs. Shelly Petruska, Chief, A3B Learning Branch, HQ AETC, on May 1 to discuss how the Air Force is redesigning CoL and to learn about current AFIT CoL initiatives.
AETC defines the CoL as the deliberate process of combining education, training and experience to produce the right expertise and competence to meet the Air Force's operational needs.
“The redesign of CoL provides a more student-centered, flexible approach to learning,” said Petruska. “Airmen will have more choices to participate in enriched personalized learning experiences when and where needed throughout their career.”
AFIT’s School of Systems and Logistics is a leader in building CoL ideologies such as modular and blended learning into their courses. Modular learning is a CoL learning method that takes larger education opportunities and breaks them down into smaller pieces. Blended learning combines different learning modes such as self-paced, on-line, facilitated and un-facilitated and applies different educational technologies such as simulations, games and interactive applications.
An example of the School’s CoL philosophy in action is evident in a “Develop the Force” suite of short courses for the logistics career field. Most of the courses are less than six hours and are delivered in modules by experienced logisticians using blended learning methods. This delivery provides easy access, instructor involvement, and the appropriate level of academic rigor for immediate use of knowledge.
The suite of short courses provides true gap-filling education for logistic field grade officers, company grade officers, senior non-commissioned officers and civilians preparing to take on a new position. By providing targeted information on their new position prior to the move, the logistician can arrive prepared with a foundational knowledge of key terms, processes, and concepts.
AFIT provides this particular series of short courses in partnership with HAF/A4 whose Logistics Human Capital Strategy calls for developing the workforce through education, training and experience.
The end goal of the CoL redesign is to create an Air Force culture of lifelong learning – a passion that AFIT instills in their students and faculty. “I am a big proponent of life-long learning. Even at my rank, I actively search to increase my knowledge in a variety of topics,” shared Col. Shane Dougherty, Dean of the School of Systems and Logistics.
Another example at AFIT of CoL in action is in their research into a Cloud-based Cyber Education Hub. The Cyber Education Hub would be an online site, accessible any time with a CAC card and populated with bite-size videos, articles and tutorials on all things cyber; not just for those in the cyber career field, but also for those in career fields where cyber is becoming an integral component. The Hub is designed to engage students in a highly learner-centered model, with easily searchable and understandable on-demand material.
The Cyber Education Hub will have a large initial pool of education and research content. In the Hub, content like lesson videos would be available in an interface similar to Netflix or YouTube that would track a student’s progress, build a user profile and make recommendations on further content to explore based on their viewing history, career field and command directives. The result would be an education experience tailored to the student.
The Air Force must develop multi-domain, joint warfighters to meet the demands of the 21st Century operational environment. Advancement in the way education and training is delivered and tracked is key to that development.
As the CoL cultivates the environment for meeting those needs, AFIT stands ready to provide foundational support with innovative approaches to education through synchronizing new technologies, learning approaches and opportunities.
Click here to learn more about AFIT and the Develop the Force Short Courses
Click here to learn more about CoL success stories
Know, Share, Ask about CoL by joining the AF CoL milBook Group at https://www.milsuite.mil/book/groups/continuum-of-learning (CAC required)