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Electronic Signals moves virtual due to COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Abbey Rievves
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas With the coronavirus playing catalyst, the 17th Training Wing and federal guidance mandated social distancing, self-isolation, and limited occupant capacities. 

While many military members shifted to a teleworking status, technical training pipeline students who are learning inside the classified facilities didn’t have this option. 

However, the 316th Training Squadron willfully re-focused on its number one priority, which is to improve and innovate their training curriculum continuously.

With safeguarding their students in mind, the Apprentice Electronic Signals Intelligence Analyst (1N2A) course, innovated by shifting two-thirds of its material digital. 

“Our course was uniquely positioned and able to move to an integrated distance learning model when the need for social distancing became apparent,” said Tech. Sgt. Patrick Sordyl, 316th TRS course supervisor. “This allows us to get our students out of cramped classrooms and move to more open areas on base. Now instead of having 14 students sitting next to each other, the students may be in rooms with only one or two other students.” 

The 1N2A course is an entry-level course, which teaches data analysis for the aircraft and pilot’s benefit during mission planning.

“This course is the first-level training for electronic intelligence,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Preiser, 316th TRS instructor. “We teach Electromagnetic Spectrum Theory, Radar Theory, and how it’s applied for the Air Force.”

A student-centric model of instruction was in the works for almost a year, but COVID-19 brought this futuristic goal forward nearly instantaneously when the course moved digital.  

“The Air Force and Marine instructors have transitioned our course to a more student-centric model of instruction,” said Sordyl. “This allowed us to give our students their materials and their learning objectives so that the students can be in the driver’s seat for their training.”

Transitioning materials to virtual learning require proper security review. 

“We’ve reviewed course materials and ensured the transitioned material was unclassified or for official use only,” said Tech Sgt. Jacob Trentmann, 316th TRS deputy course director. “We’ve been utilizing a tool called ‘Milsuite,’ which can only be accessed with a common access card.”

The in-classroom portion of the course has also adapted to meet the emerging health code standards. 

“While in the classroom, we have split the classes in half,” said Preiser. “It actually gives us more time to focus the training on fewer students, and it’s been beneficial.”

These course concepts and intelligence skills can also be applied unequivocally throughout the whole military domain. 

“The greatest advantage of integrating courses with our sister services is the unique perspectives and experiences that come from working in a joint-environment,” said Sordyl. “By having other view-points in the training we conduct, we can provide much more robust and realistic training to our students while preparing them for joint-service environments.”

As a joint-base, Goodfellow strives to advance not just the Air Force, but the entire enterprise of the future force.  

“Our students are shown how intelligence is used not just with a focus on the airborne domain, but the shipborne and land-based domains as well,” said Sordyl. “On top of that, the students are exposed to other services-unique cultures, which leads to much stronger teams and better communication skills when they reach their capstone exercises and go on to their operational units.”

Learning different cultures can also help with perspective. 

“Everywhere our students go after graduation, it’s a completely different mission, with different customers, and working with different military services,” said Preiser. “This is a good initial opportunity for --in our case both the Airmen and Marines-- to see the military and see the career field from different perspectives.”

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