Virtual reality around the circle: eSchool of Graduate PME

  • Published
  • By By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert

 Air University’s eSchool of Graduate Professional Military Education is exploring a new technological platforms in their upcoming elective: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and Related Technologies in Learning for the National Security Enterprise.

The course focuses on the technical aspects of virtual reality, the physiology of the human mind and how it reacts to virtual reality, and the different types of applications that are available.

Col. Tony Millican, AU eSchool of Graduate PME Future Learning Initiatives director, said he thinks VR has the capability to make a major impact on the learning environment within the Air Force, the DoD and even outside organizations once the technology grows and more devices become available.

“You can’t go back in time, but with virtual reality you can go into a simulation and watch the signing of the Declaration of Independence as a first-person witness to that event being recreated in a digital space,” Millican said. “I can’t emphasize enough the amazing difference that virtual reality brings to the learning environment.”

 There are currently 18 students enrolled in the elective course coming from various organizations – eight students who are in the eSchool’s online master’s program, seven students from Air War College, two from Air Command and Staff College and one from the Air Force Chaplain Corps College. 

In the capstone project, the students are required to produce a research paper on how virtual and augmented reality could be implemented in the training procedures within their respective career fields.

“What I’m looking at is using virtual reality not only for flying, but bringing the entire cockpit into a simulation and see if that is going to make the learning even a little bit better based on the feedback we’ve gotten back from the pilot training experts,” said Col. Tim Mach, course student and KC-135 pilot.

Millican said that he hopes that this first class will produce a set of reports that will inform how the Air Force can best use this technology in an academic environment. He went on to mention how virtual and augmented reality could be used to enhance education at all levels, better supporting Air Education and Training Command’s Continuum of Learning.

“In terms of the Continuum of Learning, VR is a tool that can be used throughout a person’s career from the very beginning all the way through their senior levels of command,” Millican said. “You can use VR to teach basic skills and also as a tool to enhance strategic decision making and everything and anything in between across multiple career fields.”