EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, California --
The Edwards Training and Education Center recently completed its first-ever virtual Flight Commander and Flight Chief Course, graduating five students, at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
The course is the first of its kind to be offered virtually. The move to become virtual was necessitated largely as a response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said Vita Evans, Education Services Officer.
“We don’t know how long COVID is going to go on, but we know we want this information to go out to the Flight Chiefs and leaders,” Evans said. “So much of the information is useful, if you want to be good at your job, I highly recommend taking it.”
The course was originally conducted quarterly and in-person, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Evans and the rest of the Education Center team thought outside the box, or the classroom, in this particular situation.
The team focused on providing course material that leaders could use in their positions. They crafted a website that provided students with videos from subject matter experts. The course work also provides discussions for students to learn from each other from their different experiences.
Students are provided a website address are able to go through the coursework at their own pace throughout the week. Facilitators are able to monitor class participation and attendance during that week.
The course topics include three modules: Module One covers safety, the administration process and facilities, Module Two covers education opportunities, military tuition assistance, force management, awards and decorations, human resources and manpower. Finally, Module Three covers procurement, finance, resource stewardship and contracting.
Evans explained that she’s had experience with online classes and aimed for a different experience.
“I know how to do online courses I know what's expected. So I wasn't happy,” Evans said. “I wasn't happy with just looking at five hours of speakers. That is not a course, in my opinion.”
Evans and her team designed a course through SharePoint which incorporated those three modules and discussion board posts. Modules include video presentations from on-base subject matter experts. This allows students to “meet” these experts and are also provided up-to-date contact information for them. Students can then reach out to them for additional information or during real-time situations.
“The discussion board is to assess what was learned, and then also we want feedback on the course so the students have to do a survey after each module,” Evans said. “The survey questions not only check for learning, but to see if they can actually apply the learning to a new leadership position.”
Even through working through technical challenges and logistics, feedback has been positive, Evans said. The course is available to everyone who is coded as a flight commander or chief, and Evans and the rest of the Education Center Team highly suggest that those who are able to take the course to sign up for it.
“We really want it to be friendly,” she said. “We want all of the information to get to the members; we want to see if students are able to utilize the material. The response has been pretty good, everybody learns differently, but based on what we have available until we open back up. I think it's a great alternative.”