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Remote Class Soft Start & Online Classroom Standards


Good morning! Today we begin our journey to re-make the way we teach and learn at USAFA. I think the best analogy for what we are trying to do is that we are a C-130 wing, converting ourselves into an F-35 wing -- in a week. When I mentioned this analogy to Chief Milligan (a former C-130 maintainer), he upped the ante with "and we are doing this swap while the Wing is in the air!" It's no small feat! I invite you to think of today's "soft start" as a test flight of our new airframe.

Beginning this morning, we will be performing the first of two "soft-start" windows. The goal of these soft-starts is to troubleshoot logistical and technical issues before classes go "live" with remote classes on Wednesday, March 25. Understand clearly that whether we have one or two soft-starts is entirely in your hands. If we demonstrate full functionality this Thursday and Friday, we will not need a second flight test next Monday and Tuesday. Are you up to the challenge? If so, read on!

We have two goals for these soft-starts:

  1. Determine that you can connect to your classes.
  2. Show that you can access your remote learning resources without issue.

To accomplish this, your instructors will stand up meetings to connect with you via the primary teaching method of their course (i.e., Teams, Blackboard, email, phone, etc.). If your instructor anticipates holding synchronous class at any point during the semester, your instructor will contact you during your normally scheduled (Mountain Daylight Time) meeting time. (Do not be late!) Thus, if you have a T2 class, you will meet at 0830 MDT. If your class will only be taught in an asynchronous manner, then your instructor will reach out via an email or through a BlackBoard post or carrier pigeon (are you still reading?) and expect a response from you within 24 hours.

Make sure that you make positive contact with your instructor, and inform her or him if you have any issues access online resources - including both permissions (i.e., passwords and access rights) and connectivity (i.e., streaming bandwidth and latency). Be prepared to be present for the second soft start window (Monday-Tuesday) if there are issues that your instructor wants to re-test.

The more you demonstrate proficiency this Thursday and Friday, the less likely you are to need take-two" on Monday and Tuesday of next week. I know you are up to the challenge! I know this, in part, because of the amazing results you demonstrated by connecting with your first class cadets yesterday afternoon. Thank you! Let's demonstrate our capability during "soft-start 1" today and tomorrow and eliminate the need for a "soft-start 2" on Monday and Tuesday!!

Online Class Standards
Once classes go live on March 25, I expect you to treat them as you would your traditional in-person classes. The same expectations hold for online classes as in-residence classes for completing work with honor and integrity, finishing work on time, and communicating with your instructors. I've attached an Online Classroom Standards Letter to clarify all of my expectations in more detail.

No matter your major, class year, or role in the cadet wing, you are a critical link to our nation's defense. We must continue to produce second lieutenants for the United States Air and Space Forces, and your continued academic success at the Academy is a critical (and required!) portion of that. If you fail--if WE fail--then the manpower our nation needs for its defense will be cut short.

I will continue to update you as we finalize details and establish a battle rhythm. Beyond our soft starts, please keep in close contact with all your instructors, alerting them of any issues you may have with connectivity, illness, or extenuating circumstances. With blue skies, we will all be together in time for finals.and you can once again "Beat the Dean"!!

Brigadier General, USAF
Dean of the Faculty