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Group discussions now supplement Airman leadership distance learning course

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. - Students attend the in-resident Airman leadership school through the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center here Sept. 24, 2015, at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Group discussions now supplement the Airman leadership distance learning course through a 2016 guide developed by the Lankford EPME Center and the Air Force's Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jerry D. Harlan/Released)

Students attend the in-resident Airman Leadership School through the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center Sept. 24, 2015, at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center on McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tenn. Group discussions now supplement the Airman Leadership Distance Learning Course through a 2016 guide developed by the Lankford EPME Center and the Air Force's Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jerry D. Harlan/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command Airmen preparing for the noncommissioned officer ranks at their units will understand their distance coursework better through small discussion groups, according to a new guide released here in January.

The Group Discussions for Adult Learners guide asks students enrolled in the Airman Leadership Distance Leaning Course to improve their comprehension of the materials together.

"The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center and the Barnes Center for Enlisted Education listened to the supervisors and Airmen across the 54 and recognized a need to help in reviewing and processing such a large amount of in-depth material," said Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, commandant of the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted Professional Military Education Center.

The guide is now published in the course's Successful Learning section. It provides questions, exercises and activities for each chapter, which supports small-group discussions on the material, said officials.

"The TEC and Barnes Center intend to continually develop this guide to meet the needs of all Airmen, across the Air Force," said Walden.

The discussion groups are specific to Airman enrolled currently in ALS DL Course 3, Version 1. Those who previously passed and tested in that course are not allowed in the discussion groups, which the Barnes Center's officials restrict to avoid academic compromise.

The two Lankford Center instructors who wrote the guide said that they considered the Guard and Reserve's needs foremost as well as called on their EPME teaching skills. 

"Being Guard myself, I understand what it's like to enroll in Course 3 and trying to balance what is really 16 hours to do a month's worth of work," said Master Sgt. Mary Moore, a senior ALS and NCO academy instructor assigned from the Georgia National Guard.

Moore explained that the Guard and Reserve ALS students may not share experiences in their civilian careers that they can use to relate to some course topics, which are possibly centric to regular Air Force operations or duties. 

"We are now bridging that gap to a more realistic, relatable material for them," she said.

Moore and Tech. Sgt. J. Michael Laws traveled to the Barnes Center on Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama to share their classroom and student knowledge with ALS curriculum developers. They also attended special, instructional design training. 

"We have the classroom experience in helping people understand what they need to know about the material," said Laws, who is assigned from the regular Air Force to teach at the EPME center.

"I think we are better suited than anybody else in the Air Force to understand how to engage these groups of people," said Laws, about the EPME center's unique mix of instructors and students, both from the regular Air Force, the Air National Guard and the Reserve Command.

Walden said that his best hope is for the Guard and Reserve Airmen to gain a better understanding of the course material and how to apply it successfully in their workplaces.

"It's changing the paradigm for those students," said Walden.