• AMSC pilots online Intermediate Course

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  • David Howey | Army Management Staff College
    Army Management Staff College takes great pride in its resident leadership and leader development programs. The two-week Basic Course, the three-week Intermediate Course, and the four-week Advanced Course, are important professional-development events for Army Civilian Corps members who attend them at Fort Leavenworth or at a Mobile Education Team site.
    However, not every ACC member is able to travel to Fort Leavenworth, either for personal or professional reasons, and not every ACC member is able to attend a MET.
    To address this problem, AMSC designed a fully-online version of its three-week Intermediate Course Phase 2 in early 2019. The design was meant to provide in-grade IC students a resident-like experience with no travel and the ability to complete the course in their workplaces.
    “It’s important that Army Management Staff College becomes more responsive to our Army’s future needs. Institutional adaptability is critical,” said Stefan Banach, AMSC director. “The Army Civilian Corps’ world is changing at a rapid pace, and the AMSC needs to change with it.”
    AMSC completed a group trial or “pilot” of the 116-hour all-online version of the Intermediate Course Phase 2 Sept. 27. The newly-designed course employed online learning, commonly referred to as “facilitated distance learning,” which features an instructor facilitating a course with 16 students in a virtual seminar.
    “Leveraging technology and enabling the ACC to work, learn and collaborate in the digital world is key to our Army’s future,” Banach said.
    The learning outcomes and the terminal learning objectives for the all-online version are identical to the ones used in the resident course. Students in the all-online course are still required to complete the 60-hour Intermediate Course Distributed Learning Phase 1.
    Online students are assigned to 16-person seminars, which are further divided into five or six-person “table groups.” These replicate the small table groups in AMSC’s resident programs.
    One difference between the Resident Phase 2 experience and the Facilitated DL course is the course length. The Intermediate Course Phase 2 is three weeks, while the Facilitated DL Intermediate Course is 14 weeks. The general design principle was to take one day of resident class and spread it over one week of online learning.
    One of the benefits of the all online format is the students’ ability to apply their learning immediately in their workplaces.
    “While the obvious benefit from the online course format is the ability to stay at your workplace and continue performing your job duties around the course … the greatest benefit is the ability to apply lessons learned throughout the course immediately in your real-world work environment,” said Andrea Vozzi, one of the pilot students and a lead budget analyst at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa.
    Page 2 of 2 - Another benefit is flexibility, Vozzi said.
    “I chose to take the CES Intermediate Course online due to the flexibility provided by this format,” she said. “Additionally, the online format saves money by eliminating travel costs.”
    Vernon Ragasa, a protocol specialist at Camp Zama, Japan, the only student from outside of the contiguous United States enrolled in the pilot, said he could not physically attend the resident course at Fort Leavenworth.
    He dited the flexibility of being able to contact peer-students any time, regardless of the time difference.
    “I can post, e-mail, text message, chat and collaborate with my classmates anytime throughout the week,” Ragasa said.
    The learning platform for the course is Blackboard, just as it is for the Intermediate Course Phase 1 and Phase 2. Blackboard offers a feature, “Blackboard Collaborate Ultra” which enables real-time online collaboration between people all over the world. “Collaborate,” as it is informally known, allows video, voice, and text communication, as well as file sharing, application sharing, and screen sharing.
    During a typical course-week, students complete one or two individual activities and one or two group activities. Each week, a two-hour synchronous session between students and faculty helps solidify the week’s learning.
    “When we are collaborating on Thursdays, we can interact with our instructor and classmates using video, voice and chat. There are also various other tools on blackboard that are very useful and informative too,” Ragasa said.
    Twenty-nine students completed the pilot course, which ran from June 17 through Sept. 26. The graduates are now fully-qualified IC Phase 2 graduates. A second pilot is planned to take place in January 2020 with the goal of future deployment of the Facilitated IC DL Course in mid-to-late 2020.
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