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May 27, 2011  

Training

Distance learning to be used for
Advanced Leadership Course

Story & photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Soldiers taking the Advanced Leadership Course (ALC) through the SSG Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Academy at Fort McCoy will complete the training via distance learning beginning with a June 17 class.

Master Sgt. Carlton Dozier, the Fort McCoy NCO Academy ALC distance-learning course manager, said ALC now is being conducted by distance learning for active-duty Soldiers and is just starting for reserve-component Soldiers. Fort McCoy is the second Reserve Noncommissoned Officer Education System program to offer the course via distance learning, he said.
PHOTO: Instructors from the Fort McCoy NCO Academy attend a training session about distance-learning techniques for the Advanced Leadership Course. Photo by Rob Schuette
Instructors from the Fort McCoy NCO Academy attend a training session about distance-learning techniques for the Advanced Leadership Course. Eduardo Serrano of the NCO Standard Domain of Newport News, Va., presented the training. The first NCO Academy ALC distance-learning session will begin June 17.

“The advantage is the distance-learning method is more cost efficient,” Dozier said. “More troops also can be trained at once via distance learning versus on-site attendance.”

Sgt. 1st Class Donna Vance, the NCO Academy distance-learning team leader, said up to 96 students can be handled by in-residence training per course, while 125 can be taught by distance learning.

The students attending the in-residence training are flown in from all over the country for the 12-day course. The personnel taking the course via distance learning only need Internet connections and a computer and will have 90 days to complete the training, Vance said.

“The same material is presented in both courses,” Vance said. “The distance-learning training is similar to online college courses. Students will have milestones to finish assigned portions of the training.”

Dozier said the NCO Academy will have instructors available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and also on an on-call basis to support students in ALC. This will allow instructors to have a more structured class schedule, while still being available to support the students.

“We underwent an intensive training session in early May to ensure we know how to use the new courseware and present the material,” he said. “This will allow us to use the program to get the best results.”

The distance-learning course requires the unit chain of command to provide necessary administrative support to students to ensure they pass and meet all requirements, Dozier said. For example, students attending in-residence courses at the NCO Academy are screened for height and weight standards and must pass an Army Physical Fitness Test at Fort McCoy before graduating from the course. Units must ensure this and any other administrative requirements are accomplished and up-to-date for distance-learning training.

This will result in less paperwork for NCO Academy cadre, which will allow them to focus more time on supporting the training, he said.

Both Dozier and Vance said their experience, to date, is students benefit from in-residence training by sharing their military experiences and interacting with other students and instructors.

The challenge of distance learning will be to design ways to get students to share their experiences with other students and instructors, Dozier said.

Courses have built-in requirements for Soldiers to exchange this information online, but the availability of other students may not be as convenient as if they are attending a resident course.

“The training is critical for Soldiers to get promoted, so increasing the course availability and class openings will help,” Dozier said. “We’re all overachievers so we still will be giving 110 percent to each student to help them succeed.”

Vance said the distance learning requirement only will be in effect for the ALC course. Soldiers will continue to do the technical portion of their military occupational specialty training in an in-residence phase at another location.

Soldiers can register for the ALC by going through their unit administrative personnel. For more information about the course, call Dozier at 608-388-4540.

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