In order to address challenges from cybersecurity to the pilot shortage, the Air Force is employing an educational strategy known as “chunk education,” said Gen. Steven L. Kwast, Commander and President of Air University. This model of “just in time education” shifts emphasis from a degree as the end-goal of an educational process to focused, specialized units of education tailored to very specific problems, Kwast explained at ASC16. “Education is more than just book knowledge.” He called on the Air Force to leave behind what he called “the industrial age of education” and deliver small units of instruction, often over distance, that can be adapted to the evolving nature of problems, especially in cybersecurity. A major benefit, Kwast said, would be the ability “to solve problems affordably” in an era of reduced budgets. The goal of education, he said, is “taking a ten dollar problem, solving it for ten cents, and making your enemy solve it for one hundred dollars.” Questions remain about the accreditation of such certificate programs and the ability of military personnel to transition into the civilian world upon separation. Kwast addressed this concern by suggesting that chunk education could add up to a degree conferred by Air University, but he admitted that accreditation would remain a challenge until accrediting bodies could “catch up” to the innovative practice.
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