367th TRSS dives into game-based learning

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Samantha Parrish
  • 367th Training Support Squadron
"Fly, fight and win," is the mission of the Air Force. It is my mission to make sure our war-fighters are prepared with the latest, most technologically advanced training available. Throughout my career, I have seen an evolution in the way we do business. As a leader, it is my responsibility to support and promote these advancements. I am the Interactive Courseware flight chief for the 367th Training Support Squadron, and I have the unique opportunity to witness the development of the most advanced training an Air Force unit is capable of producing. We support the mission of Air Education and Training Command (AETC) to "Develop America's Airman today... for tomorrow." In support of this mission, AETC's vision is to "Deliver unrivaled air, space and cyberspace education and training." In pursuit of these endeavors, AETC provides basic military training, initial and advanced technical training, flying training and degree-granting professional military education.

As Dr. Rick Blunt, director of Plans and Programs for the DoD Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, stated, "The Department of Defense is faced with challenges in expanding technology-based solutions that can make war-fighters more efficient, effective, knowledgeable and flexible. Of growing importance to the DoD is the potential of using Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) game-based learning in the armed forces for increasing combat readiness. The recruits of today not only understand technology in everyday use, they expect it! These young recruits are 'digital natives' who were raised in a digital environment surrounded by inexpensive, yet highly interactive gaming systems. To get the most from our new 'best and brightest,' new research into game-based learning needs to focus on military use. The objective of these projects was to add definitive research in the area of game-based learning."

As we support this digital environment and the concept as presented by Dr. Blunt, we are exploring the capabilities of game development. As we peruse a game based learning project for production superintendent training, we are reaching to meet AETC's mission. Our focus remains right at home -- this training is currently conducted by Air Combat Command Maintenance Training here at Hill Air Force Base.

This proposed project focuses primarily on the emergency management objective. Production superintendents are tasked with managing a specific number of aircraft and personnel. They learn the appropriate responses to specific emergencies that may occur on the flight line. However, they are not given the opportunity to apply what they learn in class. If the student can practice responses to emergency situations, they will be better able to deal with actual emergencies. This is where a training game can help.

The student will use the proposed game loaded on a PC in the classroom. The game will put the student in a simulated flight line environment and evolve into one of three emergency scenarios. Presented with an emergency scenario, the student will have to react appropriately in accordance to guidance given within the class. This affords the student the opportunity to practice an emergency scenario in a safe non-threatening environment. The instructor can then reinforce the lesson by discussing the success or failure with the students.

We intend to use this first product to prove the concept and learn the vital skills needed to create a total immersive 3-D game. Once the initial game is created we will then build on the project to create more scenarios. Game-based training has proven itself throughout the training industry and the DoD, and we at the 367th TRSS strive to provide relevant, world class training to today's Air Force.