The Air Force is phasing out its old Course 15 distance learning program by the end of May and replacing it with a new Noncommissioned Officer Distance Learning Course it says will make studying easier for airmen.

The new NCO DLC program was detailed in an April 21 Air University memo signed by Jeffrey Geidner, dean of enlisted professional military education for the Air Force. NCO DLC is intended to offer "an enhanced distance learning experience" with improved quality of content.

The new course also divides the material into three modules and provides more practice questions in each chapter. Each module also has a practice test at the end to help students assess how well they absorbed the lesson.

Students will also take a "summative test" after each of the three modules. This is a change from the old Course 15, which had students take two summative tests covering the entire course.

The memo was first posted on the unofficial Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page April 25.

In a follow-up email, Senior Master Sgt. Katherine Grabham, special adviser to Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright, said that Air Education and Training Command worked on the new distance learning course for more than nine months. Most of the changes made — such as having smaller sections so students can learn in more manageable "chunks" — were requested by airmen, Grabham said.

Grabham also said the new course will have a more user-friendly interface that's compatible with more electronic devices.

The April 21 memo also said that all eligible students not enrolled in Course 15 as of June 1 will enroll in the new DLC program.

If a student already enrolled in Course 15 can't finish by the time it expires Sept. 30, 2018, that student must enroll in the new DLC program, Geidner said. This will give students time to finish the full 12-month course enrollment, as well as a four-month extension if necessary.

Course 15 students also have the option of disenrolling and re-enrolling in the new program, the memo said.

The courses are required of enlisted airmen after they reach their seven-year time-in-service date. This means that most of the airmen being notified by the Air Force Personnel Center of the PME requirement are staff sergeants. Airmen have 12 months from when they're notified to complete the course.

The Air Force also on April 21 announced a two-day meeting was held earlier that month to review the service's EPME. The meeting, which is held every three years, was the most comprehensive since 2008, Grabham said, and led to the formation of three working groups.

The first working group, covering policy, met the first week in May, Grabham said. After that group decides what needs to be done to further improve EPME, two other groups — one on curriculum and another on deciding what resources are needed—- will meet to figure out how to implement the policy group's ideas.

Each group will be made up of 15 to 20 people and will include airmen currently enrolled in EPME, those who have recently finished, supervisors whose airmen are currently or recently enrolled, and civilian subject matter experts.

When Wright became the CMSAF in February, he said that improving the Air Force's training and better taking advantage of technology was one of the main areas he wanted to focus on.

"From day one, one of my objectives within this focus area has been to ensure timely, focused and operationally relevant training solutions at all levels," Wright said in the April 21 release. "We need to work toward eliminating redundant, ineffective or superfluous training."

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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