Transforming Training: The modernization of the 346th Training Squadron SCALE-UP Classroom

  • Published
  • By Jonathan Cotto
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

Nestled in the heart of Naval Base Ventura County here is the newly activated 346th Training Squadron where a new initiative, the SCALE-UP classroom was recently unveiled. The reimagined and transformed space is among one of several modernization efforts within the 37th Training Wing where training is now competency-based and student-centered.

According to David Guthrie, 346 TRS Curriculum Developer manager, this educational approach applied to SCALE-UP isn’t solely task focused but rather emphasizes the need for students to demonstrate the application and knowledge of their newly learned skills.

Airmen in the 346 TRS are training to become Vehicle Maintenance technicians and feedback gathered from student surveys revealed the traditional classroom environment wasn’t acceptable to them. The traditional classroom consisted of instructor led lectures, textbooks, and paper schematics.  Guthrie describes the interactive training classroom to be more collaborative and engaging.

“Right now, they are just listening to an instructor, studying for pop tests just to move on, Guthrie said. “They are excited about being out on labs.”  The Student-Centered Activity Learning Environment Upside-Down Pedagogy or SCALE-UP, represents an on-going shift in instructional design, delivery, and redesigned classroom taking shape across Second Air Force as part of the Tech Training Transformation initiative. The primary objective of the SCALE-UP classroom is to spearhead the development of a front-line training program for 2T3 Vehicle Management specialties.

At the core of the SCALE-UP classroom’s mission is the creation of a new three-level course for VM specialties. The interactive training classroom boasts an array of features designed to enhance the learning experience. Color-coded tables provide flexibility and organization, while each table is equipped with a mobile media cart that allows for the installation of monitors.

Additionally, two 65-inch interactive displays facilitate student presentations and teacher-led instruction. Magnetic desktop glass boards offer a collaborative space for brainstorming and problem-solving. Tablets are readily available for individualized learning, with a charge cart featuring UV light disinfection maintaining their cleanliness and accessibility. Furthermore, the incorporation of augmented reality and virtual-reality technologies elevate the learning environment, enabling immersive and engaging educational experiences.

“This one classroom was roughly $20,000, but if we get the approval for more classrooms, the equipment would be ordered in bulk, reducing the cost,” Guthrie said.

The curriculum developer manager says the transformation and modernization of tech training within the Air Force is a journey that doesn’t happen overnight. It requires meticulous planning, collaboration, and investment in resources.

“The process began with research, looking for different types of classrooms, keeping in mind I had a 15x25-ftclassroom,” Guthrie said. “With bringing the immersive virtual reality learning environment in, I added that into my challenge, just to see what would happen.”

The development of the classroom at the 346 TRS represents the culmination of months of research and refining requirements.  While the SCALE-UP classroom is scheduled to be operational in October 2024 some students have had an early access opportunity.  Their feedback is unanimous: it’s a game-changer.

“Having schematics on an interactive screen opposed to having it on paper --that’s literally a mile and a half long-- makes the learning much more efficient and effective,” Airman Gryphyn Meltzer Said. “Instead of looking at all of the information of an entire vehicle you can now zoom into just one aspect that you’re focusing on, and it allows you make corrections without having to use Wite-Out.”

Airman Gryphyn Meltzer is among the eager students who recently graduated from Basic Military Training. Having arrived at the 346 TRS in February, Meltzer expresses his excitement to begin his training in VM.

“I am extremely excited, I feel this is something that is going to greatly impact my future in a very positive way,” Meltzer said.

For Meltzer, becoming a VM Airman wasn’t random, his passion for cars dates to an early age.

“My passion came from my dad, I grew up around the old Volkswagen bugs and busses, so I got all the air-cooled knowledge of that,” Meltzer said.

He hopes that his background in mechanics and the experience he developed with his father will prove beneficial in his new career in the Air Force. However, he acknowledges that he’s accustomed to a more classic approach to troubleshooting and problem-solving. Nonetheless, he says he eagerly anticipates embracing the new SCALE-UP classroom, particularly the use of VR in the virtual garage.

“The ability to take this next step into the use of AR and VR is helping us move forward and keep pace with the latest technology,” Meltzer said. “Training with computers and all of the new technology will help us further adapt to the computerized world of new vehicles.”

Guthrie describes the SCALE-UP classroom as the definition of tech training transformation. Its inception heralds a new era of excellence, where technology and progressive instructional methodologies converge to cultivate the next generation of Air Force professionals.

“My main expectation is seeing the end-of-course surveys with a lot of positives,” Guthrie said. “With this change, this transformation I expect a lot and I will just say, a better vibe.”