Distance learning an AU priority
By Donovan Jackson, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published January 04, 2013
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- As the new year unfolds, technological advancements combined with traditional learning methods are continuing to be applied at Maxwell, which will assist in the advancement of Airmen education.
Emerging technologies permit Maxwell the ability to utilize new software in a way that can speed the process of Airmen education while saving money and making learning more efficient.
"The utilization of technologies that present a substantial positive impact on distance learning while influencing a more cost conscious culture are already being implemented at Maxwell and Gunter," said Dr. Bruce Murphy, vice president for academic affairs. "There is technology out there that is making education and the learning process different than what it was 15 years ago, and we are simply trying to take advantage of it."
According to Murphy, by observing some of the technological advancements made in higher education around the country, it is imperative to take advantage of what is new and already available in order to prevent from falling behind.
Air University has always engaged in different forms of distance learning with students by sending books to people for correspondence programs, but, according to Murphy, with new technology education can be "quicker, better and more robust."
"One initiative that we are currently working with is the enlisted professional military education Next Program, also known as EPME Next," said Murphy.
The program evaluates the time Airmen spends in the classroom, then tries to determine if shortening that time is possible by adding a distance learning online component where a lesson can be completed at home station, making them more prepared before entering the classroom.
The distance learning online component is designed to give Airmen the opportunity to tackle fundamental educational work ahead of time on topics such as the foundations, principles, structure and other basic elements temporary duty assignments of the Air Force. By providing this educational assistance, Airmen are able to focus primarily on higher level learning their duties while in residence.
"By making certain lessons available online, students will have the ability to learn the material ahead of time, also the level of student participation increases as students are given the ability to type questions to their professor rather than raise their hand as they would in a traditional classroom setting," said Murphy.
In addition, because there is only a certain percentage of people that come into residence, the online component also can be used as a tool to package residency learning and make it available to other branches of the military as well.
According to Murphy, the Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development is already providing courses completely online.
"There is a great course for all new government employees at the Eaker Center called the new employee orientation, or NEO, which is completely online," he said.
The course consists of discussion threads and different forms of interactive online learning methods, Murphy said.
"We feel that this degree of distance learning, blended learning or online learning, regardless of the name, will keep the education process cheaper and more cost effective," he said. "The more that we can get it right in converting to convert and put into electronic learning, the more money and trees we can save."