Satellite Airman Leadership School gets well positioned

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
  • I.G. Brown Training and Education Center
When the message went out months ago that Airman Leadership School might be offered in blended learning again through a satellite program there was a colossal, "Please do this!!" response to Master Sgt. Kirk Hayes and his Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center teammates.

The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center here strives to make training convenient and cost effective for the Air Force. The huge response from the field meant they uncovered a huge need, now they had to dust off a once shelved program and begin anew.

"Interest far surpassed what we thought it was going to be," said Hayes, superintendent of the Satellite EPME program.

The TEC is the Air National Guard's primary force development center. Its 85 Total Force staff members teach an average 18 EPME courses and host more than 40 professional continuing education courses each year.

The Center's satellite business has been robust in recent years as National Guard members, especially, work or attend college on the weekdays and have little time to travel. The TEC has done well with its satellite Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

That course, which teaches advanced leadership to technical sergeants hoping to make senior ranks is a weeknight broadcast. It's currently delivering the blended learning course to 115 Airmen at 11 installations across the country.

Many more are noticing the Center's success as the only Air Force blended learning EMPE available.

"Working in conjunction with the National Guard Bureau, we decided to try providing a satellite Airman Leadership Course for this spring to see how popular it was and see how it works for the future," said Hayes.

The course will be taught for eight hours, Saturdays and Sundays, for five weekends, followed by a two-and-a-half week in-resident session here.

The curriculum of the satellite is no different than the in-resident, Hayes said.

The instructors are confident they can get beyond the "dust off" phase of a satellite product shelved in 2008, but it's too early to say how effective they will be. They plan to monitor test scores to ensure it meets all Air Force standards.

"The students won't notice it because of all the hard work to ensure they get the same product as a physical classroom," said Tech. Sgt. Jenny Sanchez, EPME instructor and NCOIC of the ALS Satellite program.

Sanchez and Tech. Sgt. Caleb Rose are serving as on-camera instructors for this course. The center has about a half dozen instructors like them who can teach all genres of NCOA and ALS, classroom and satellite.

"Sergeant Rose and I are fortunate to be the faces associated with the satellite program because we are the on-camera instructors, but as a whole, a greater TEC team is behind the vision of getting this out to the Airmen who need it," said Sanchez.

And although the course once stopped, technology progressed. That's where the TEC's niche of having a high-definition television studio and broadcast network makes the broadcast feasible but not as easy as warming up an overhead projector.

"We heard stories that it was done via satellite, but we are starting everything from scratch here," said Master Sgt. John Anderson, who manages a six-person team of broadcast technicians at the TEC's Media Engagement Division.

The broadcast team and engineers pulled together to attack the challenge. They started cross training and are designing new graphics and show introductions. They also plan to share the weekend duty with the mindset of gaining expertise as technical directors, so the course will go on without a hitch.

"From seeing the success of how satellite NCOA works, I have a good feeling about it," said Anderson.

The first broadcast is scheduled, live starting May 4 from the studio, which is in its 18th year of providing blended learning NCOA via its "Warrior Network" satellite broadcast system.

"If we are as successful with satellite ALS as we are with satellite NCOA, it's because of many working here to make that huge impact on the Air Force," said Sanchez.

"I think she said it best," Rose added. "The satellite team is going to give the best that we can, that being, we keep students enthralled, entertained and educated throughout the weeks of broadcast. Then we will meet them here to finish the in-resident part of course and seal that impact on their leadership that it should."