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We can't go wrong developing Airmen through their feedback

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, Sr.
  • I.G. Brown Training and Education Center
How can we go wrong if we develop a course for Airmen, by Airmen, with Airmen's feedback guiding the way? I do not believe that we can.

The Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center graduated our first Airman Leadership School Blended Learning Course - class 16‐8.

Never before has an Airman completed enlisted professional military education with a portion of the course being delivered online. It was done here first, and it will not be the last.

Our challenge was to find a cost effective way to provide a quality, in‐residence experience for our main customer...the traditional Air National Guard Airman. We were asked to ensure that the Airman who lives five hours away from their base can still participate in a rigorous academic experience. We were asked to ensure that when we state that "we need you to go TDY to school for two weeks" that it is actually, 14 days.

The team not only met those challenges, they exceeded the expectations.
The idea for the course started when I came onboard as Commandant in May 2015.

Chief Master Sgt.  James Hotaling, the 11th command chief of the Air National Guard, asked me to see if there were other EPME alternatives that we could explore.

As a product of online education and an instructor of online education, I instantly thought, "online education." This delivery method is currently a mainstay for many colleges and universities. I figured that, if it can work for them, this method should work for the ANG and the USAF.

The team was put together in August 2015 that developed the initial concept design. We presented the product to the U.S. Air Force Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. After a day of outstanding presentation, the Barnes Center allowed Lankford Center's delivery of its first online course. It started July 4 with the online, Phase 1 portion.

I have to admit that there were some bumps in the road, but Phase 1 was very successful. The students did not realize how successful it was until they came to campus, for Phase II.

Phase II went extremely well, as 38 students came to our campus and put into practice what they were exposed to online. They developed some online relationships already with their fellow students as well as developed quality relationships with their instructors. Bringing them all together, face to face, had a huge impact on their morale and on their educational experience.

Graduation night was August 26, and it was a smaller graduation; however, it was impactful.

We had four distinguished graduates, one Leadership Award winner, and the course's first Levitow Award winner: Senior Airman Greg Murray, from the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh.

The Airman Leadership School Blended Learning Course continues to develop and grow. The same team that started this journey is now working with the Barnes Center for our second course. Their changes are based on student's direct feedback, as well as on our instructor's experiences.

As I said, we can't go wrong with their feedback and accomplishments.

(Chief Walden is assigned as the 14th commandant of the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center as well as the senior enlisted leader of the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center in Louisville, Tenn.)