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Altus NCOA graduates excel in new virtual format

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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Corey Targos, 97th Training Squadron boom operator contractor officer representative, looks over his NCO Academy coursework at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, August 30, 2020. Targos was recognized as a distinguished graduate for finishing in the top 10 percent of his class at NCOA. (U.S. Air Force Photo by 2nd Lt. Cameron Silver)

Man sits at desk

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Seth Roese, 97th Operation Support Squadron assistant chief controller of the tower, works from his office at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, August 30, 2020. Roese earned the John L. Levitow Award for being the highest overall performer at the NCO Academy. (U.S. Air Force Photo by 2nd Lt. Cameron Silver)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Two NCOs from the 97th Air Mobility Wing recently completed their NCO Academy coursework all from the comfort of their homes. U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Seth Roese with the 97th Operation Support Squadron and Tech. Sgt. Corey Targos with the 97th Training Squadron are members of only the second class to have undergone this new virtual format.

A typical day lasted from 8 a.m. to around 5 p.m. and the course was conducted through a variety of different programs. Software like Microsoft Teams, Canvas, and more was used by students to interact with their instructors as well as each other. Lessons were taught to all of the students at once and breakout rooms were used to enable small group discussions. In addition to their coursework, students were responsible for completing two individual projects and one group assignment.

When asked if going online was easier or harder than his previous in-person training, Targos explained that it was a little of both.

“It was hard to team build without that personal interaction,” he said. “Peer evaluations and the group projects were also tough, but I was lucky that I had a good flight and we gelled really well. As for advantages, it was easier to share notes and have more resources at your disposal.”

Roese said that being at home was the greatest upside of the virtual format and allowed for better time management.

“The ability to do it from home was big,” said Roese. “You could still manage other appointments and not have to put everything on hold.”

Targos added the fact that the virtual format allowed more time with family.

“Being at home was a huge advantage,” said Targos. “Being able to help my wife with our kids was great.”

Despite the adjustments, both NCOs impressed their training staff and graduated with honors. Roese earned the John L. Levitow Award, presented to the highest overall performer in the course, and Targos was recognized as a distinguished graduate for finishing in the top 10 percent of his class.

Targos offered some tips for future online students.

“The best advice I could give is to make sure your equipment is good, have a good webcam, and get outside of your comfort zone,” said Targos. “You need to participate.”

While it might not always be necessary, online training like this could remain an option for Airmen going forward. It has several benefits, such as saving the Air Force approximately $900,000 in temporary duty-to-school costs and alleviating any career or promotion disruptions. For Roese and Targos, it has also proven to be an enjoyable experience.

“I was hesitant at first, but my expectations were blown away,” said Roese. “I would do virtual again.”

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