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Cloud-based Air Force learning ecosystem to give control and “21st Century speed” to Airmen

Air Education and Training Command officials announced the service’s new cloud-based learning ecosystem is currently in a beta test with four courses, with testing expected to complete in the summer of 2019 and full operational capability expected in early 2020. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Chip Pons)

Air Education and Training Command officials announced the service’s new cloud-based learning ecosystem is currently in a beta test with four courses, with testing expected to complete in the summer of 2019 and full operational capability expected in early 2020. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Chip Pons)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Education and Training Command officials announced the service’s new cloud-based learning ecosystem is currently in a beta test with four courses, with testing expected to complete in the summer of 2019 and full operational capability expected in early 2020.

The learning ecosystem will put students in control of their learning, allowing them to learn anywhere, anytime and on any device, breaking the long-held paradigm of the Air Force controlling the learning environment.

“In the past in the industrial age, when you come into the service, Airmen have been told what to learn, when to learn and how to learn it,” said Lt. Gen. Steve Kwast, AETC commander. “The learning ecosystem will put training in front of Airmen in a learner-centric way that is mobile and moves with 21st Century speed.”

Servicing about 800,000 users annually who complete up to one million courses per month, the Air Force Learning Services Ecosystem will provide a centralized data collection and distribution point for the core learning services, such as content development and delivery, student management, evaluation and testing, advanced analytics, and the Airmen Learning Record, which form the technological foundation of the service’s Continuum of Learning.

“Learning is so critical to Air Force readiness that we need a means to quantify and track it, which is what the learning ecosystem allows us to do,” said Dr. Matthew Stafford, AETC chief learning officer.  “This will allow commanders at all levels to make better operational and developmental-investment decisions, enabling us to build the most effective, most innovative and most lethal multi-domain warfighters in Air Force history.”

Tracking a lifetime of education and training in one place, the Airman’s Learning Record will provide a one-stop shop to record all learning, whether it occurs in a specialized training or education program, on the job or off-duty, or even training with another military service.  
 
Currently, Airmen’s learning is documented in multiple, stove-piped learning systems, with no central tracking mechanism in place to identify competencies, which can prevent commanders at all levels from putting Airmen in the right positions to accomplish the mission.    
 
“From the learning ecosystem, we’ll access the ALR, which is basically the collection of what Airmen know and what they can do in ways that haven’t been tracked before,” Stafford said. “Again, learning gained through education, training and experience.”  
 
Once fully operational, the learning ecosystem will be accessible to all Airmen through both .mil and .com environments so anyone can access the training they need from work, home or any mobile device. As part of experiential learning, the intent is to provide users with an alternate two-factor authentication capability to accommodate learning on mobile devices, or “bring your own devices,” as well as mission partners who do not have a common-access card, such as the Delayed Entry Program, international partners, and dependents.  
 
Inside the learning ecosystem, Airmen will also see integrated social and technology components as well.  With the Communities of Interest section, users will have access to different social-based communities of interest based on the Airman’s Air Force Specialty Code, providing a collaborative environment for Airmen to talk with other Airmen, supervisors or instructors about learning.  The technology sandbox adds the ability to test out new software, such as gaming applications, inside the ecosystem without disrupting the existing capabilities.

For instructors, the learning ecosystem will provide the ability to track how well Airmen are learning a subject, or if they are struggling, allows for courses to be adapted so Airmen get the most out of their learning.  
 
“The Air Force has come to accept that innovation for the future is going to start with Airmen,” Stafford said. “That means we have to design our learning environments differently to promote that kind of ingenuity.”

For more information about the Continuum of Learning, click here.