Educational Support Staff: AFCLC’s Media and Technology Development Team Published Feb. 25, 2022 By By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team AFCLC MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Air Force Culture and Language Center offers several online education and training courses to help service members and civilians develop expeditionary readiness, culture awareness, and cross-cultural competency. All courses are developed in-house by experienced developers, subject matter experts, and distinguished faculty members. AFCLC’s media and technology development team is responsible for the professional look, feel, and performance of these courses. AFCLC currently offers two academic courses to enlisted members of the total force enrolled in the Community College of the Air Force – Introduction to Culture and Introduction to Cross-Cultural Communication. In addition to these educational courses, AFCLC also offers several training courses, including the Cultural Awareness Courses exclusively available through AFCLC’s Culture Guide app and Basic Airman Readiness training courses available through the Air Force’s myLearning site. Troy May and Bob Knapp comprise AFCLC’s media and technology development team. They work together to maintain current courses and bring new ones to life. While May works with the curriculum developers who create content for the Cultural Awareness Courses, Knapp works to maintain the educational CCAF courses and the Basic Airman Readiness training courses. He is also helping develop a new CCAF course AFCLC will offer in the future. For this team, no two days are the same. While they have some predictable tasks, their schedule is unpredictable. “It’s multiple facets of things. I might be harvesting graphics, coordinating with voice-over actors, or working in our storyline software putting all of those pieces of the puzzle together to create our Cultural Awareness Courses,” May said. “I am also regularly interacting with Bob and the Curriculum Development team as my compass to guide me.” Once the curriculum for a course is mostly developed and the team receives the storyboard, they begin creating the audio and visual components for each course segment. May and Knapp have both developed an “ear” for ensuring the audio pieces of each course flow smoothly. “Sometimes what reads well on paper does not sound well when spoken, so it may have to be reworded to flow better,” May said. In addition to the audio and visual aspects, May and Knapp also ensure the courses function correctly. “It’s not just a matter of how it looks and sounds; it has to function right,” Knapp said. “There are different ways to publish the course content through many different applications, so we have to ensure the chosen medium can function properly on military systems and various devices. Our courses aren’t just going on learning management systems now; they are also being utilized in our Culture Guide app. This is a new horizon for us.” The team constantly works with other divisions and AFCLC leadership to provide a polished product for all target audiences. Since the team is juggling the maintenance of several current academic and training courses while developing new ones, a challenging part of their role is feeling behind schedule. With only deadlines for the finished product in mind, the team must set their own pace along the way. “I feel behind sometimes, wondering if I should be moving faster or doing more,” May said. “I want to do well in these courses and prove myself a valuable member of the team.” The challenges are all worth it for Knapp and May, however, once they receive a “job well done” from AFCLC leadership and the audiences utilizing the courses. They see their role as another avenue to serve their country and enjoy learning new things during the development process. “We’re not necessarily experts on the software because it can be very complicated. Every time software is updated, we have the opportunity to learn the new features so we can provide bigger and better features within our courseware,” Knapp said. “Some people cower away from challenges; as developers, we go after them and take the time to figure out how to overcome them.” The media and technology team even faces technology challenges from time to time. “The downside is when technology gets in the way,” Knapp said. “Sometimes we have issues with technology on a larger scale that are out of our control, and we can’t fix them. Still, we try our best to find workarounds so the students can still achieve their learning goals.” Ultimately, the team works diligently to provide the educational and training courses needed to prepare service members for their next mission. “At the end of the day, it’s about our service members. These Cultural Awareness Courses are designed to provide the service person with ‘something more than nothing’ when they arrive in a new place they’ve never been to,” May said. “Former service members who I’ve spoken to wish they had something like this. That rings in my head constantly as we work to answer the question, ‘What can I give these service members that’s going to help them feel more comfortable in Japan, Russia, or wherever it is to accomplish their mission?’ We need to give our service members tools so when they get to these places, they know how to integrate into the culture because we taught them with these courses.” To continue fulfilling AFCLC’s role as the Air Force’s Global Classroom, AFCLC and the development team are creating more courses based on strategic needs and hopes these courses will be utilized across all branches of the armed forces. “I think everyone can benefit from these courses. All of our service members across all branches might find themselves in Russia, Japan, Iran, or other countries, and these courses can help give them the tools they need to do their jobs,” May said.