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Aviano AB prepares for first virtual ALS class across AF

Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School staff run through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. The ALS staff has turned to virtual options in response to COVID-19 and will be the first virtual ALS course throughout the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School staff run through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. The ALS staff has turned to virtual options in response to COVID-19 and will be the first virtual ALS course throughout the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Krystal Lindsey, Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School instructor, runs through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. A few lessons were modified but students will still be able to meet lesson intent as directed by the Barnes Center Instruction and will still be able to participate in guided discussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Krystal Lindsey, Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School instructor, runs through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. A few lessons were modified but students will still be able to meet lesson intent as directed by the Barnes Center Instruction and will still be able to participate in guided discussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School staff run through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. The ALS staff has turned to virtual options in response to COVID-19 and will be the first virtual ALS course throughout the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School staff run through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. The ALS staff has turned to virtual options in response to COVID-19 and will be the first virtual ALS course throughout the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Krystal Lindsey, Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School instructor, runs through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. A few lessons were modified but students will still be able to meet lesson intent as directed by the Barnes Center Instruction and will still be able to participate in guided discussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Krystal Lindsey, Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School instructor, runs through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. A few lessons were modified but students will still be able to meet lesson intent as directed by the Barnes Center Instruction and will still be able to participate in guided discussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Bow and Air Force Staff Sgt. Krystal Lindsey, instructors at the Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School, run through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. A few lessons were modified but students will still be able to meet lesson intent as directed by the Barnes Center Instruction and will still be able to participate in guided discussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Bow and Air Force Staff Sgt. Krystal Lindsey, instructors at the Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School, run through practice lessons in preparation for a virtual ALS course at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 9, 2020. A few lessons were modified but students will still be able to meet lesson intent as directed by the Barnes Center Instruction and will still be able to participate in guided discussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

Personnel at the Tech. Sgt. Adam K. Ginett Airman Leadership School at Aviano Air Base, Italy, prepare to start the first virtual ALS class across the Air Force on April 14, 2020, in response to COVID-19.

“As a staff, we had to adapt to the restrictions COVID-19 has placed,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Bow, 31st Force Support Squadron ALS instructor. “We were encouraged by our leadership to be innovative in how we can continue our efforts.”

The ALS team had the support of leadership to attempt new opportunities and understood that it was acceptable to fail forward and continue to seek different options to ensure the students received the best learning experience possible, explained Bow.

“The virtual class will operate using three combined platforms – Canvas Learning Management System, Zoom Video Conferencing and in-classroom check-in points,” said Bow. “A majority of the lessons will continue to be taught as though the students are in the classroom.”

A few lessons were modified as far as delivery but students will still be able to meet lesson intent as directed by the Barnes Center Instruction and will still be able to participate in guided discussions.

“The mission is still continuing, and so are we,” said Bow. “Currently, there are 65 individuals within the wing that possess a Priority 1 status to attend ALS.”

If these individuals do not complete ALS before August they risk losing their line numbers and work centers will continue to wait to have qualified supervisors in the work place.

“It is important to us that Airmen needing to attend ALS do not have to wait to get the necessary Professional Military Education if we can still meet curriculum intent through alternate means,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Kelani Mendiola, 31st FSS ALS commandant. “This virtual classroom is just an example of how we can merge intent-based leadership and innovation to make it happen.”

The ALS staff encountered multiple hurdles along the way including Wi-Fi and internet capabilities, recent turnover at the schoolhouse with 75% relatively new instructors, and learning an entirely new platform to teach upon to help the students.

“I always tell my instructors that if they can’t deliver 110% in the classroom then they will not be standing up front delivering,” said Mendiola. “We had to get to that 110% on this new virtual platform and so failing forward was going to be vital for us. It didn’t take long before we were ‘all-in’ and ready to overcome any challenge.”

Bow said he is looking forward to new experiences and opportunities, not just for his team, but also new pathways for the Air Force.

“The past few weeks have been challenging for all of us as we try to navigate a new norm,” said Mendiola. “These challenges could have prevented my team from continuing to teach and mentor our frontline supervisors. However, they became opportunities instead and we get to be the first Airman Leadership School in the Air Force to teach on a virtual classroom.”