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Optimizing ABM syllabus saves time, empowers students

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Heather Leveille
  • 33 Fighter Wing

The Undergraduate Air Battle Manager Course reduced training days from 175 to 135 by optimizing the syllabus and giving the students more responsibility to learn on their own, resulting in a 26 percent total time saved.

“We are moving more toward a learning environment that allows the students to learn in a way that best suits them,” said Lt. Col. Michael Lynch, 337th Air Control Squadron commander.

To make a course more directed toward the different ways students learn, the team changing the syllabus asked those who just went through the course for help.

“When we went to optimize the syllabus, one of the things we did was take feedback from students in previous courses of what could have helped them learn better throughout the course,” said Lynch.

One of the ways they decided to help students accelerate through the course was giving them tablets and access to materials outside of the classroom, so they have the ability to learn and study at any time of day.

“From visual to audio learners, early birds to night owls, or even the traditional classroom learners, there are ways for each student to find the best method for them to study the material,” said Lynch.

Decreased manning in career fields across the Air Force encouraged changes in various courses, which included the undergraduate Air Battle Manager training course.

“The need to optimize the syllabus was partially due to the manning issue,” said Major Anthony Keith, Undergraduate Air Battle Manager Course instructor. “We needed to be able to create the same level of expertise in our Air Battle Managers in a shorter time frame.”

The team tasked to make changes to the syllabus worked around the clock to make updates to the course.

“Since colleges and universities have been doing online and mixed format for quite some time, students are familiar with that type of learning,” said Keith. “We were able to integrate mixed format into our syllabus quite seamlessly.”

Response from the students currently in the course seems to be positive overall.

“The students enjoy the freedom to study on their terms and the personal responsibility they are given to be successful in their careers early,” said Keith.

Although the students are enjoying the changes, they will never stop the improvement process here.

“We ask for feedback after each lesson, event and test mission we give the students, so we can constantly see what we can improve on for this course,” said Keith.

The changes made in the course so far have been adding lessons to an online format, reducing simulation and live events that are easily understood, changing classroom lessons to a discussion format, gamification of lessons by putting teams of students up against one another and completion of more prerequisites prior to the start of the course.

“We have saved time by reducing the instructor-guided lessons in the classroom by putting lessons online for students to read and comprehend the night before,” said Lynch. “The classroom lessons are now more geared toward discussion and questions from the material rather than just reading from a PowerPoint in class.”

The saved time allows for more Air Battle Managers to graduate sooner and get out into the field.

“Air battle managers command and control all airborne and ground missions using various strategies and the knowledge they’ve gained from their training,” said Lynch.

Air battle managers take information from all over the battlespace and find a way to relay what’s necessary to the various moving parts.

“We bring order to chaos,” said Keith.