By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published June 15, 2020
The Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education is responsible the education and development of enlisted Airmen. The programs that fall under the Barnes Center include Airman Leadership School, Non commissioned Officer Academy, Air Force Senior Non commissioned Officer Academy, the Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Course, the Enlisted Professional Military Education Instructor Course and the Community College of the Air Force. ( U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Alexa Culbert)
After a short break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education has begun virtual in-residence remote courses, June 1, 2020.
The courses currently in session are the Chiefs Leadership Course and three Noncommissioned Officer Academies: Airey, Vosler and Kadena.
Students and faculty are engaging with one another via video conferencing software and are afforded the same material that is provided to in-residence students.
The Barnes Center team said they are doing everything possible in order to ensure that the virtual-in-residence students meet the same learning objectives as their previous in-resident counterparts through the virtual platform.
“The entire Barnes Center team has worked together to create the capability for Airmen to attend an virtual in-residence version of EPME remotely, allowing them to interact with both their instructor and classmates while remaining at home station,” said Dr. Kevin O’Meara, EPME dean. “The dedication and professionalism of our EPME faculty and staff, combined with the enthusiasm of our students will make these Virtual In-Residence-Remote courses powerful learning experiences.”
While there is a lot of excitement around resuming operations, the Barnes Center team is aware of the personal and professional stressors that the pandemic has placed on Airmen.
With that in mind, the new remote courses are flexible and blend synchronous and asynchronous instructional methods, including discussion board posts/ responses and projects that students can accomplish on their own time. This allows instructors to tailor the program to fit the needs of their students, while simultaneously ensuring course objectives are being met and upholding standards.
“The team has demonstrated that the development of our enlisted force does not have to stop in moments of crisis,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lauren Brock, chief of EPME. “Developing a mentality of resilience and endurance has translated to the Virtual in Residence course being established. This is the product of professionals all across the Air Force coming together and providing a solution that embraces the development of our Enlisted Force.”
As this is a new experience, the Barnes Center curriculum team is anticipating feedback from faculty, staff and students, and they said that they cannot wait to see the innovative, out-of-the box solutions developed organically by their instructor cadre.
“These are dynamic times that make us stronger as a Force,” said Col. Kathryn Brown, Barnes Center commander. “We’re excited by the VIR-R feedback received thus far from both students and faculty. I’m incredibly proud of our Barnes Center team and all schoolhouses across EPME for their agility in developing innovative solutions to ensure our continued focus on the mission. I especially want to thank our AFPC EMPE scheduling partners who have been instrumental to this entire effort.”