By test, Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education
/ Published June 27, 2016
ORIGIN OF THE EXTENSION COURSE PROGRAM
The Air Force’s continuing education program began under the Army Air Corps and has continued uninterrupted operation since the Air Force’s activation as a separate service in 1947. The program relocated from Fort Benjamin Harrison (Indiana) to Gunter Air Force Base (Alabama) and became one of the Air University’s professional schools in 1950.
After becoming part of Air University the program was renamed the Extension Course Institute (ECI) to reflect its primary mission of providing non-resident programs for the Air Force. Mission enhancements and technology applications over the years generated some name changes to reflect broadened responsibilities. In 2000 the Extension Course Institute, the Air Force Distance Learning Office, and the Air Technology Network were merged into a single distance learning entity: The Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning (AFIADL). In 2008 restructuring of HQ Air University saw the inactivation of AFIADL as a separate agency and its merger with the AU Communications Squadron (AU/SC) creating a new Directorate of Education Logistics and Communications (HQ AU A4/6), Extension Course Program (A4L).
The program’s evolution continued in 2012, with an organizational change request (OCR) that realigned the Extension Course Program (A4L) under the Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. This merger unified and strengthened AU’s enlisted development mission. Concurrent with the OCR change, the Extension Course Program was designated as the “new” Air Force Career Development Academy (AFCDA), continuing the Air Force’s tradition of providing distance learning to its airmen.
In fulfilling its mission, AFCDA manages all facets of curriculum development and delivery for enlisted upgrade training materials. Over 400 courses are delivered via print or electronic media to over 120,000 students annually. An essential AFCDA responsibility is operating the Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS) office for the Air Force. In support of this essential mission we also publish and distribute 70,000 Specialty Knowledge Test study packages each year.
Our essential mission/service is providing education to the Total Force. In achieving that mission we educate and consult with course writers and career field managers; assist with course development, ensure quality and accuracy, validate content, develop and deliver exams, and provide feedback on all educational aspects to career fields. In carrying out this mission we host, store, manage, and deliver content to ensure that we provide timely education and training for the total force.
Throughout our history our motto “Readiness through education” has been a guiding principle
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