Military education in the Air Force
The adaptive and successful use of technology in learning and performance, involving a range of digital literacy, plays a large role in modern society and is particularly critical in warfare. The U.S. Air Force is facing future learning environments where Airmen must learn more rapidly and adapt more quickly to swiftly evolving demands of war fighting where knowledge, critical-thinking skills, and performance are increasingly important in unforgiving circumstances. Evolving-conflict environments demand evolving-education processes. Well-developed digital literacy is needed by Airmen to effectively learn and perform across informal self-development efforts, formal schoolhouse programs, and a variety of operational experiences.
Advanced technological developments require educators to think and plan strategically regarding the role of digital literacy to help ensure the Air Force has a competitive and adaptive learning system capable of meeting future learning needs of the Airman. Educators should be actively involved in devising updated learning frameworks and curricula to help develop the digital-literacy knowledge and skills needed by Airmen. Posner (2002) observed that students do not simply need to know how to manipulate computer or digital tools and resources; they must develop the desire for, and a habit of, critical thought. The learned capacity for critical thinking includes improved discernment when using the Internet and forms of social networking as well as interpreting reliable information sources on the Web. In addition, the ability to use technology does not necessarily involve consistent ethical considerations among students, or an understanding of the possibilities for cross-cultural understanding and access to multiple perspectives the cyberspace provides.
Blended- and affective-learning frameworks and environments can also be designed to support modular curricula to help sequence learning in better ways with Airmen’s schedules and operational tempos. This capability introduces prospects for integrating performance-support applications that are also blended with learning applications to help foster stronger ties between schoolhouse learning and on-the-job performance and decision-support tools. Bridging the schoolhouse to on-the-job environments, using blended- and affective-learning frameworks, can strengthen the continuum of lifelong learning across formal, informal, and life experiences for the Airman. Competitive and adaptive future-learning environments will increasingly evolve to better-blended and distributive models simply because it matters to an expeditionary force to educate war fighters regardless of place. Nonetheless, most educators place high importance on the role of place in learning, even with distributive-learning environments. In addition, educators are increasingly designing and developing good virtual surrogates for traditional physical learning places. Some educators go so far as to suggest that traditional physical places for learning operate, in part, with critical virtual elements through the sociocultural practices of the learning community.