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Division of Air National Guard's education center changes its name, direction

TEC University chart

The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center's PCE Division announced that it is now called TEC University, effective Nov. 1, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard illustration)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. --

The Air National Guard division that manages professional continuing education for thousands of Airmen has changed its name.

The I.G. Brown Training and Education Center's PCE Division announced that it is now called TEC University, effective Nov. 1.

The new name, which leaders say identifies a new approach in learning, comes from years of listening to requests by Airmen to broaden its offerings and innovate education methods to upgrade their skills and knowledge, its officials said.

"We have been advocating for a distance-learning platform to start meeting the students where they want to learn — not where the Air Force forces them to educate," said Chief Master Sgt. Shaun Withers, division chief.

One central piece — and buzz from the field — is obtaining a learning management system, the same kind used by public colleges and universities for .edu or .com online-degree programs. Withers and his team just finished a review of the commercial platforms available. They will make a decision on which one best suits the needs of National Guard members, of which a sizeable percentage serve on during drill weekends and would like military training available at home as online university-style lessons.

Earlier this month, the division restructured its Instructional Development, Production and Transmission branches to improve their interaction and align efforts under a shared mission statement and vision statement.

Withers said in a prepared email that TEC-U includes four lines of effort that identify its purpose to the 90 wings and more than 107,000 Airmen. They include: Leadership Academy (train the trainers, leadership schools, instructor certification); Building the Blue (learning management systems, 3-/5-/7-level upgrade training, specialty skill enhancement); From the Force (just-in-time training, 1-5 minute crowdsourced videos, enhancing and encouraging innovation); and Innovation in Education (education's think tank, designing learning for the future, developing training technologies).

"We are implementing those things that we've talked about for a long time, and having these four different avenues," said Tammie Smeltzer, who is heading up TEC-U's academics. "It is a modern and forward-thinking education approach, which is vital to the Air National Guard's future."

Smeltzer admitted that TEC-U's development is not coming overnight — as they are still in fledgling stages — but she is optimistic and excited that they will soon train Airmen the way Airmen want.

"Our team is so excited because this new direction allows us to show off our talents in video production, broadcasting, and instructional development," Smeltzer said.

TEC University is a detachment of the Air National Guard Readiness Center and is located on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base outside Knoxville, Tennessee.