GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Fly. Fight. Win. This is the collective mission of Airmen in the United States Air Force. At the 17th Training Wing, a radically different training initiative is being cultivated which better prepares graduated Airmen to accomplish the mission.
By aligning competency based learning with the recently released Next Generation Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Dominance Flight Plan, Airmen will be better prepared to contribute their skills to the fight.
Included in the Flight Plan are three pathways which drive the overall strategy; investing in the foundational capabilities of people. This new training initiative, Learning Next, includes redesigned classroom spaces, integration of active learning elements and training cadre members to facilitate instruction through a modern approach to education.
Learning Next has captured the attention of Air Force leaders from Air Force Headquarters, MAJCOMs and Combat Support Agencies. On February 7th, the 17th TRW had the opportunity to showcase the program to over 30 ISR leaders through the “Learning Next in the 17th TRW” open house. The day began with a rotation of small group tours throughout four primary stations, allowing each unit to impress upon our visitors through a demonstrative approach and new methods of curriculum delivery, while outlining ongoing and future plans.
In the 17th Training Support Squadron, Cognitive Enhancement Team members Meaghan Sullivan and Jeb Clay led our visitors through simple and entertaining experiments demonstrating how active learning works and why it is the preferred approach to education.
“Active learning is at the heart of the Faculty Next initiative,” said Lt. Col. Amber Saldana, 17th TRSS commander.
At the 315th Training Squadron, Maj. Nicholas Swanson, 315th TRS assistant director of operations, ushered the ISR leaders next door into the redesigned open environment of the Active Learning Classroom. Here, they had the opportunity to interact with the Intelligence Officer’s “14Next” beta class as they worked through a real-world scenario using the Learn, Execute and Debrief method, a scalable methodology applicable to all courses offered here at Goodfellow.
While at the 316th Training Squadron, Tech. Sgt. Aaron Miller and Tech. Sgt. Albert Poland, both 316th TRS 1N4 instructors, facilitated the flipped-classroom method of instruction, which puts the responsibility on students to learn material at home and then implement what they learned in class. Visitors observed 1N4 students take turns teaching a complex mobile communication architecture, asking and answering one another’s questions while instructors served as a Guide on the Side, observing and interjecting as needed. One student, Airman 1st Class Rachel Grobbel, 316th TRS student, showed excellent poise, communication skills and command of the material as she instructed her fellow classmates. After Grobbel’s classmates voted her the most valued contributor, Brig. Gen. Gregory Gagnon, National Security Agency commander, coined her on the spot.
Finally, at the 313th Training Squadron, Capt. John Bream, Distributed Common Ground System flight commander, welcomed the honored guests to the newest squadron of the 17th TRW. He discussed the 313th TRS Formal Training Unit FORWARD initiative, which is capitalizing on modern technology to move FTU courses from a classroom-based instructional model to one that emphasizes hands-on instruction occurring in an operations floor context. Additionally, FTU-FORWARD will include an online academic component that will free instructors to devote more time to coaching students through the execution portion of the course.
The Distinguished Visitors had several opportunities to interact with officer students and return to the squadrons to participate in various Learning Next activities including gamification, advancements in career development and integrated exercise scenarios.
According to Col. Thomas Coakley, 17th Training Group commander, “The 17th Training Wing, expects to deliver more ready and lethal ISR professionals to the field faster…achieve[ing] the most effective and efficient training program in the Air Force.”
The Learning Next open house was an opportunity to show key ISR leaders the revolutionary new methods which will ensure ISR professionals can immediately contribute to U.S. ISR dominance.