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Bite size Blackboard webinars takes training to the masses

Monica Garcia, 81st Training Support Squadron online learning course director, facilitates a Blackboard webinar on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, August 26, 2019. The Faculty Development Online Learning Team developed monthly online webinars to help Air Force instructors learn more about Blackboard. (Courtesy Photo)

Monica Garcia, 81st Training Support Squadron online learning course director, facilitates a Blackboard webinar on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, August 26, 2019. The Faculty Development Online Learning Team developed monthly online webinars to help Air Force instructors learn more about Blackboard. (Courtesy Photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Over the last several years, Air Education and Training Command has focused efforts on the Continuum of Learning initiative which has reinvigorated the Air Force technical training environment and has integrated innovation into the learning process.

Part of this initiative has been the expanded use of instructor-led online and blended learning courses using the AETC Blackboard Learning Management System. The 81st Training Group has multiple courses housed in the BbLMS, with more being created every day. This change in training is a positive move toward a more student-centered, active-learning environment. However, it has proven to be challenging as faculty and staff have had to “muddle” their way through administrating, designing, developing and delivering training through the BbLMS.

Recognizing the need for organic Blackboard training, the 81st Training Support Squadron Faculty Development Flight’s Online Learning Team set out to meet this training need in a way that is easily accessible and respectful of the customer’s time.  In today’s busy work environment, learning professionals do not have a lot of time for training that takes them away from the office.  As a result, the Blackboard Basics Webinar Series was born.

The Faculty Development Online Learning Team takes the training to them and offers monthly webinars on a variety of Blackboard topics. The first session topic “Building Content” was introduced on June 19 and hosted over 60 participants from 45 Air Force agencies. Word quickly spread, and the second session, “Understanding Roles” followed in July with an astounding 85 participants from 50 agencies, to include sister services.

Topics covered in the webinars are answering frequently asked questions that are fielded by the Keesler Faculty Development Online Learning Team. Not only are online learning professionals receiving much needed training, it is creating a personalized learning experience for participants as questions are answered on a wider scale so that many can benefit. Additionally, this “Bite size” training is held in one-hour time blocks so it allows participants to receive training without hindering their entire work schedule and also allows them to attend from their desks.

The response to this training has been overwhelmingly positive and has validated that there truly is a need. In an anonymous survey that is sent out following each session, one attendee stated that they wished the training was around a year ago and that they are still learning new things they can use right away.

“This training is the perfect format,” said Tanya Davis, 312th Training Squadron chief of training development at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas. “The one-hour time frame makes it easy to attend and the convenience of it being online allows our entire office to watch together. Our group even began coming up with ideas for our own courses during the session!”

The webinars are recorded and participants are provided detailed “How-to” guides that allow viewers to not only follow along with the session, but also use later as a job aid. Feedback from participants says they are finding the sessions and guides particularly helpful when initiating and developing their Blackboard projects.

Additionally, as AETC Blackboard topic offerings continue to expand, the 81st TRSS Faculty Development Flight is establishing a repository of on-demand learning opportunities.

Upcoming sessions are scheduled for September, October and November. If you are interested in registering you can visit the registration link here or contact Monica Garcia at monica.garcia.6@us.af.mil for more information.