GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Firefighting may not have changed much over the years, but the way the Fire Academy plans to teach it, due to the Fire MILE (Mobile Interaction Learning Environment) and its integration with the classrooms at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy on Goodfellow.
Fire MILE approaches how newer generations learn and the technology they use on a daily basis, combining the two for a more natural education. The classes will have iPads equipped with e-books, newly created videos and educational applications to allow a better understanding of the material.
Tanya Davis, 312th Training Squadron chief of training development, is introducing these future changes so that trainees can take away more from the classes than just the lesson of the day.
“The goal is to have every single trainee be able to go to their dorms at night or any other location on or off base and be able to study their material easily, quickly, and interactively so that it is not just information given to them, but something that they actual enjoy,” said Davis. “We also want to give the instructors the tools that they need to better teach the information that they have by bringing technology and the classroom together.”
As part of the Air Force’s Continuum of Learning, the blended learning style is a singular topic of the Fire MILE, while another is making the information more understandable. One instructor saw a way to demonstrate key material in a simpler way.
“The form 98 is the form that the instructors have to go through which has all of the steps that the trainees have to meet to pass an objective,” said Omar Moore, 17th Training Support Squadron training development. “The video 98 is a video version of what they are being evaluated on. This lets them see the video, see an instructor demonstrate it, and finally they perform the task. To see it on the video made it that much easier. It helps the students, and it helps instructors that are new so that they are all teaching the same way. It started as me just doing the block that I was assigned to, but now I have done about 80 percent of the videos we use.”
With the ease that the iPads provide, an on-demand/on-command dynamic can be brought to the trainees.
Davis explained, STAR (Study Tools After Retreat) Project allows instructors to guide trainees to free and approved applications and games that students can explore on their own time. This allows trainees to immerse themselves in course material tailored to their learning style while being efficient and engaging.
While buying iPads for all attending the Fire Academy sounds expensive, the Fire MILE is actually projected to save $325,000 annually.
Each time a textbook or packet gets updated a new version is required, which means purchasing new material to keep everyone current, explained Davis. A simple download through the iPad provides trainees the newest edition of an application, video or e-book. This saves paper, reduces the weight carried around by the trainees, and provides them the most relevant content quickly.
The Fire MILE is in the process of getting accredited and is aiming to reach that goal by Feb. 2018.
“Fire MILE is a milestone project to updating the Fire Academy curriculum to meet 21st century technology capabilities,” said Davis. “Outside of our initial plans to improve fire training, it has the potential to spread Air Education Training Command wide.”
The Continuum of Learning is an Air Force doctrinal concept describing three components of the Air Force learning paradigm: education, training and experience. Several innovations and initiatives are housed within CoL. These include chunked learning, blended learning, on-command and on-demand learning, competency-based learning, and the formation of an Airman Learning Record (ALR).