JOINT BASE ANDREWS.Md. --
Over the last three years, our Air National Guard and Air Education and Training Command has been working with the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education to update and evolve Enlisted Professional Military Education.
The most recent changes focused on innovation and technology to update distance learning and more closely align DL to an in-residence experience.
These changes were prompted by feedback from Air National Guard Airmen, our Air Force and to better align with the Department of Defense’s National Defense Strategy.
Much of the criticism about the old PME DL program focused on the scenario-based question format. Airmen felt it wasn’t always relevant to how members handle discipline or mission effectiveness in the Air National Guard.
Evolution of EPME is a popular topic when Chief Master Sgt. Ron Anderson, the command chief of the Air National Guard, visits wings and has been one of his main priorities during his tenure.
“The Air Force guidance gave the Barnes team a great start on the changes, but the vital piece was the feedback from our students. We have to listen.” said Anderson. “If PME doesn’t produce better leaders, we are wasting our Airmen’s time. We had to be willing to shake off historical training paradigms and evolve. We owe it to the future of our enlisted force.”
The new DL curriculum will have four modules. Each student can choose how to interact with the modules using video, audio or text. The curriculum can be completed on multiple device platforms; laptop, tablet or phone.
One unique feature of the DL includes a “Test Out” option at the beginning of each module. Each student can opt for the 20-minute, 20-question test. The exam requires a passing score of 70% and can be repeated only once, for a maximum of two attempts per module. These assessments are completed from home at their convenience.
The ANG advisor to the Barnes Center commander, Chief Master Sgt. Sherry Marnell, has been working closely with the DL team over the past few months. They are focusing on putting together a course that not only aligns with the in-resident course outcomes, but also utilizes technology to offer diverse learning elements.
“I’m super excited for the new DL to roll out in July,” said Marnell. “The course has completely transformed to better meet the needs of Airmen. Its more student-centered, and our Airmen can immediately implement what they learned within their work centers.”
The Noncommissioned Officer Academy course wrapped up a beta test May 17 and the student feedback has been very positive. Pending any changes, the NCO course is scheduled to be online by mid-July. The Barnes team is projecting to start beta testing the Airmen Leadership DL in August followed by the Senior NCO DL in December.
Technical. Sgt. Gabe Ramirez, from the 190th Air Refueling Wing, Kansas ANG, has experienced several versions of EPME and reported feeling doubtful about the changes when he enrolled in the NCO DL beta course.
“Overall, when I saw ‘new and improved’ I was a skeptic,” said Ramirez. “I was caught off guard at how much better this actually is. This is more friendly to everyone, regardless if you are a traditional at home, activated, deployed, or a fulltime member of the ANG.”
Marnell reports the student feedback from the NCO DL beta course has been overwhelmingly positive which indicates the team is on the right track with the new delivery model.