WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About a decade ago, the Department of Defense (DoD) asked the Air National Guard's services to step up research and implementation of distance learning methods as a means of training service members, said Master Sgt. John Kayko, superintendent for the Air Guard distributed learning program.

Classes may be conducted via satellite broadcast, on CD-ROM, over the Internet -- even by teleconference.

"We follow private industry and try to get the very latest e-learning technology they're using and adapt it to our DoD-related methods," Kayko explained.

In 1995, the Air Guard put in a satellite-based learning system called the "Warrior Network" and concurrently created its distance learning policy branch. The Air National Guard and Army National Guard mutually share the Warrior Network and many other e-learning resources, Kayko said.

The University of Nebraska is working with the Air Guard and Army Guard to develop "Project Alert," which includes common courses suitable for e-learning, Kayko said. One example is a hazardous material-handler training course that's available to service members on CD-ROM and on the Web.

Kayko said the Air Guard's Warrior Network is mostly televised by satellite with three uplink sites and 202 downlink sites or classrooms, which feature high-definition television monitors and open speaker systems so the students can communicate with the instructor.

Multiple hookups can be used to connect several classrooms of students, and one course using this networking technique is the Satellite NCO Academy, which features 13 weeks of satellite-broadcast lessons and two weeks of resident instruction.

The active Air Force provides the majority of formal resident training to Air National Guard members and Air Force reservists, Kayko said, and the Air Force plans to convert some classroom instruction to e-learning format.

Kayko said several active Air Force courses are now being converted to e-learning format via Project Alert, and DoD's advanced distance learning Sharable Content Object Reference Model courseware is currently being used by the services in providing standardized Internet-based instruction.