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'Virtual Schoolhouse' becoming wave of future

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFPN) -- Using information technology to provide formal, long-term training is allowing military members and civilian employees to further their education with the click of a mouse while saving the Air Force money in the process.

Air Force Institute of Technology's Virtual Schoolhouse provides people an opportunity to receive online training in various aspects of the systems acquisition process, according to Maj. Michele Gaudreault, AFIT advanced distributed learning branch chief at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Acquisition strategy, product support planning and execution, engineering and science, financial management and technology are among those.

"The schoolhouse currently has 19 courses online, with five more in development and two under consideration," she said. "The courses provide continuous learning points, (which are) required to maintain one's acquisition certification."

At the Web site https://www.vsh.afit.edu/, Gaudreault said students could access the catalog of online courses, self-register for courses or log into the schoolhouse and take a course. She said the Web site could be accessed from any standard browser, around the clock daily.

"Our students are literally around the world," Gaudreault said. "So no matter where one is, if they have access to the Internet, they can access the schoolhouse and their courses."

Once a student completes a course, she said the course remains accessible to the student, "sort of like an electronic course book."

"The difference between this and a hard copy course book is that as our courses are updated to reflect the latest changes in acquisition policy, the students' 'electronic course book' is also updated because they are accessing the real course, not copies of a course given several months ago," she said.

Since May, Ronald Stanberry, a logistics manager in the B-1B Lancer system support manager division here, has accumulated more than 100 hours through the AFIT's Virtual Schoolhouse. He said he found out about the program when a friend sent him an e-mail encouraging him to "check it out."

From there, Stanberry said he went to his B-1B staffing adviser and asked her to "verify the process."

"Because I attend many meetings for the B-1B community concerning areas (about which) I didn't have any previous knowledge, I wanted to understand their process so I could benefit my section better," he said.

Stanberry said because the classes are computer-based, it was easy for him to work around his workload. In addition, he said he was able to work on certain sections and complete a few courses at a time instead of trying to fit the class time into his schedule.

"The AFIT Virtual Schoolhouse made available education on Air Force-related courses that I would otherwise have to go (on temporary duty) to accomplish," he said. "This has made me better at my job and has allowed me to expand my training beyond my career field, with no lost time on my present job or use of limited TDY funds.

"This is a dream come true for my future training requirements," Stanberry said. "By being able to complete these courses sooner, I'll be able to finish my Level 1 requirement in record time." (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)

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