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Jenn Lemmon
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Game-Changing ATO Training

The ATO has been working hard to get current and develop smarter ways of training our colleagues to take advantage of the methods our newest recruits are already familiar with. The average student graduates from high school with thousands of hours of gaming experience. So we are moving away from handing a trainee a giant binder of paper to flip through and instead are handing them a tablet with interactive features that they’re accustomed to already.

In air traffic, we have issued 2,500 iPads to controllers in training in the field, and expect to have them in the Academy next month. These mobile devices are helping with many painstaking tasks, such as using electronic flashcards to help students remember frequencies and aircraft call signs, and using tiers to aid in memorizing the multiple layers of airspace maps like sectors, jet routes and victor airways.

It’s also easier to search for terms with an electronic device, so if someone is studying how to handle Air Force Once, a trainee can do a quick word search to find information tucked in various categories.

Some electronic applications allow trainees to “compete” with one another, using leaderboards and taking advantage of the appeal of gaming that so many are used to. And more apps are on the way!

Here’s the great news. When we tried prototypes at Washington Center and Kansas City Center, we noticed trainees shaved several months off their training times. In one case, a student who went to Washington Center checked out in 20 months, compared to three or four years for students who used traditional methods of learning. We’re still collecting data, but early feedback is terrific.

We also started new performance training for both instructors and trainees at the South Florida TRACON, which is helping us with better progression and benchmarking. At the New York TRACON, we have focused more on graduated learning, where trainees master chunks of information before moving on to the next area.

We asked our Center of Excellence for Technical Training and Human Performance to look at curriculum architecture, content management and delivery, simulation and other learning areas. Coupled with more high-fidelity tower simulators in the field, we’re improving our training on many fronts.

We’re putting a high priority on ensuring our next generation of employees is highly skilled and trained. And no matter what your job in the ATO, I hope you’ll take advantage of training opportunities anywhere you are to help you advance your skills and careers.

Thanks everyone! Teri

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