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Computer-based training available to all

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFPN) -- For Air Force people wishing to further their education, the solution could be just a mouse click away. The U.S. Air Force computer-based training system, located at http://usaf.smartforce.com, allows people to supplement major blocks of formal education that may not be a part of an individual’s current curriculum.

People do not receive certification for courses offered through the system, but the training prepares students for the certification exams, said Master Sgt. Wayne Repke, program manager for CBT.

“The majority of courses are geared toward the comm and info career fields, but anyone affiliated with the Air Force can use the CBT,” he said. “This is really a valuable tool that allows users not only a chance for professional development, it also provides them the means to do a better job at work.”

The complete system is available to all active-duty Airmen, Department of the Air Force civilians, Air National Guard members and Air Force reservists. Although nearly 700,000 Airmen and civilians have electronic access to CBT’s desktop applications library called “Books24x7,” only 3,000 of the more than 400,000 registered employees have used this service.

Since the inception of CBT systems, officials at the Air Force Communications Agency training management office here have worked to make sure the courses offered reflect the current needs of the Air Force. New information-technology and business-skill courses continually replace many of the older IT courses no longer used by the Air Force, Sergeant Repke said.

“Books24x7” is an extensive reference library of commercial books and how-to guides for most software applications. It is accessible exclusively to Air Force employees and offers a search function. Within a few seconds after typing in his or her question, an employee will see a list of books giving access to the applicable material.

“The Air Force is really pushing hard to promote professional development,” Sergeant Repke said. “Take (Books 24X7) for example. Nobody can afford to have all these manuals. The Air Force is paying for the service so the student doesn’t have to. It’s another example of how the Air Force is empowering people to improve themselves and their work performance.”

The CBT program offers more than 1,700 courses encompassing both information technology and business skills including: software development; server technologies; database systems; project management; operating systems; Internet and network technologies; desktop computer skills; and budgeting.

This list is extensive, but Sergeant Repke said it is not all inclusive. He explained that virtually anyone can find courses to suit his or her particular needs. (Amy Hummert contributed to this article.)

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