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    7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy implements virtual learning for students

    7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy implements virtual learning

    Photo By Spc. Zachary Stahlberg | Staff Sgt. Gregory Doremus, an instructor for the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Zachary Stahlberg 

    7th Army Training Command

    GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- The 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy implemented the virtual learning basic leadership course, or the VLBLC, in response to COVID-19 measures, on Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, in March.

    "COVID-19 has forced us to alter our training and utilize technology to enhance the capabilities of our future leaders," said Sgt. 1st Class Cody Reece, the chief of training for the 7th Army NCOA. "We can’t allow this pandemic to interfere with our training capabilities or the progression of our Soldiers’ military careers."

    Soldiers from across Europe go to a specific location within their major area components. These locations, known as “hubs,” essentially provide the same classroom setting that resident students would expect if they were at the academy.

    "They are still required to go to a classroom environment to get their education," said 1st Sgt. William Richardson, 7th Army NCOA Deputy Commandant. "We have 14 learning hubs across four countries to ensure that everyone in the European Theater has access to the VLBLC."

    “The classrooms are limited to 10 students, ensuring they can maintain their social distancing,” said Reece. "We have one instructor for every five students.”

    The inspiration behind this innovative, new form of education came from the 7th Army NCOA and its dedicated team of instructors. They worked together to develop this training platform, ensuring that it is just as rigorous as the resident course. With the help of Sgt. Maj. Christopher West, the Basic Leadership Course director for the Noncommissioned Officer Leadership Center of Excellence, he and his team established a new Blackboard platform to ensure the success of the VLBLC.

    "He didn't want there to be a backlog or standing order of merit list of specialists waiting for BLC to get promoted," said Reece. "The Army is doing everything it can to encourage training and career progression. We are just taking extra precautions because we care about the safety of our Soldiers and their families."

    The first VLBLC began March 10, and the students graduated April 2.

    "None of our content has changed," said Richardson. "They are still learning everything they would in BLC and the selection process is the same as it was before, the only difference is that it is being taught virtually."

    There have been many challenges in getting the VLBLC started, but the hard work of the 7th Army NCOA and their dedication to training the Army's future leaders showed that nothing will stop Soldiers from accomplishing their mission.

    "What the 7th Army NCOA has done to adapt to the current pandemic in the world has been phenomenal," said Richardson. "The academy has worked hard to implement the new course delivery platform, allowing Soldiers to continue progressing their careers. Not only the speed in which we were able to respond, but also the quality of what we were able to produce gives me a sense of pride to be part of something so historic within this academy and the Army.”

    Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Cascardo, 7th Army NCOA Commandant, said that implementing virtual learning shows how 7th Army NCOA staff and students can adapt and continue the U.S. Army mission.

    “This pandemic will not deter us from providing professional military education to future leaders,” said Cascardo. “If anything, it demonstrates the importance of being an adaptable leader in a complex world.”



    Date Taken: 04.24.2020
    Date Posted: 04.24.2020 09:57
    Story ID: 368376
    Location: GRAFENWOEHR, BY, DE 

    Web Views: 179
    Downloads: 0