Air University bolsters officer training
Officer Training School
/ Published October 03, 2017
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Officer Training School cadets are now starting their curriculum before stepping onto Maxwell Air Force Base.
Faculty with OTS revamped their course to incorporate 28-hours of distance learning materials prior to cadets coming to Total Force Officers Training here.
The changes were the result of a Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development tiger team that analyzed learning methodologies and 21st Century instructional techniques to identify opportunities to improve the program, according to Col. Stephen Frank, OTS commandant.
“The tiger team was looking for a more effective way to educate future officers,” Frank said. “We train 60 percent of the officers in the Air Force. It is critical we get the training right and effectively prepare officers for the operational Air Force, because our Airmen are the best in the world and they deserve world class leadership. [We] wanted students to be participants versus recipients of curriculum.”
The challenge for this new curriculum, said Frank, was how to fit the training and experience in only eight weeks. In response to these constraints, the tiger team offered a technological solution to provide time in the TFOT syllabus for deeper learning.
“Our academic affairs team identified 75 hours of knowledge-level lessons that were being delivered in an auditorium lecture format,” said Jim Wiggins, Dean of Academic Affairs for the Holm Center. “They suggested that the material could be offered to inbound cadets using a web-based delivery system resulting in more time which could be used to improve the experience for cadets.”
The newer course began during the summer classes in 2017. Cadets now take a more experientially-focused program by spending less time in lecture halls and more time actively engaged in leadership-building exercises and discussions.
“Distance learning has become part of professional military education Air Force wide, and its utilization at OTS enhances experimental learning for future Air Force officers,” Wiggins said. “Cadets now have the opportunity to learn at their own pace depending on their level of familiarity with the material.”
The prerequisite material accommodates the prior-enlisted Air Force members who may have the opportunity for a one-time, test-out option known as the Challenge Test. Those eligible for this option take the test at their installation education office.
“The result is that upon arrival, cadets all have the same level of prerequisite knowledge, and will be engaged in a higher level of learning throughout the resident course,” Frank said. “There are now more opportunities for hands-on leadership, group problem-solving activities, such as field leadership problems and a simulated deployment, allowing cadets to experiment with different leadership styles and grow their skills based on immediate peer and instructor feedback.”
So far, two classes have graduated under the new program. The Holm Center tiger team plans to stay engaged, refining the TFOT curriculum and syllabus to achieve the optimal commissioning training program.