AWC classrooms boost technology|
by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
8/26/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Students at the Air War College have graduated from the basic chalkboard. Many of the classrooms now feature multimedia technology, including video-conferencing equipment, large-screen smart monitors, ceiling-mounted document cameras and a touch panel controller.
All these advances allow instructors to teach more efficiently and effectively, according to Gene Kamena, professor and deputy department chair at the department of leadership and warfighting at Air War College.
"These classrooms are a tool. The instructors do the teaching, but this technology offers us a wide range of capability that we did not have before. With the integration of the smart board, TV tuners, overhead projectors and document cameras, we can tailor the instruction for each particular subject," Kamena said.
The classrooms also feature easily configurable furniture, which allow an instructor to change the learning environment to fit the class's needs.
While this technology gives each professor multiple ways to present their material, the technology caters to students' diverse learning processes.
"People learn in different ways. Some people learn through audio, some learn through video and some need to take notes," Kamena said. "We can bring in two or three different techniques for presenting information to the students, and they can select what's best for them."
While all of the new technology integrated in each classroom is currently state-of-the-art, it won't stay that way for long. Kamena said Air War College is prepared for the changing technological landscape.
"If you don't move forward, you are left behind," he said. "The classroom is expandable. We did the work up front to reinforce the walls and put in enough conduit and cable so that as new technologies emerge, we can integrate them fairly easily."
In addition, the students familiarize themselves with technology they'll likely encounter in the field, according to Kamena.
"All of our students are senior leaders. They are going to go and command units that have these technologies, or they may make decisions on which technologies to purchase," Kamena said. "I think these classrooms help them to become comfortable with these technologies."
The technology used at Air War College also is a step forward from a fiscal standpoint, according to Lt. Col. Christopher Bohn, deputy director of the education transformation division at Spaatz Center for Officer Education.
Some technology is specifically designed to reduce the cost of education, for example, using electronic reading material rather than printed.
"We owe it to the Air Force to educate our leaders in the most effective manner," he said. "We owe it to the American taxpayer to reduce the costs of doing so. Technology gives us options, and a skilled instructor can select the best combination of options to educate the students."