FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Knowledge Management Office is giving Soldiers and Department of Army civilians a chance to learn more about Army Knowledge Online through classroom learning.

About 36 people attended the first AKO training course at the Soldier Service Center Oct. 18-19. The course is a 16-hour, two-day class meant to teach AKO users how to navigate and use basic tools in the system, as well as more advanced techniques like organizing groups and building personal pages.

"Our main goal is to get people comfortable with using the system," said Lance Jones, USAACE Knowledge Management training specialist. "The participation we've had so far has been very good. Hands-on training is a much more effective method of helping people understand how the system works."

The first three classes were available on a first-come, first-served basis to certain units and offices whose information management officers and administrators received informational e-mails or fliers detailing how to sign up for the course, Jones said.

Beginning in January, the class will be open post-wide. There are 36 seats available in each class and one class is scheduled for each month through September. Some special classes may be set up for units that are able to fill all 36 seats at one time.

"If a unit can guarantee it will fill all 36 seats, we can possibly set up a class specifically for that unit," Jones said. "The demand is definitely there for this type of training."

Sgt. 1st Class James Loudermilk, Air Traffic Services standardization noncommissioned officer in charge, said the class was beneficial for him, despite having previous experience using AKO.

"I learned a lot from this," he said. "It's going to help me with my organization. I'm planning to set up a page of information and file downloads that I get a lot of requests for. This training has shown me how I can do that and make it available to only a select group of people."

Others in the class had only limited experience using the system.

Bonita Sanders, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment administrative assistant, said she was happy to be part of the first class because she had no idea AKO could be used for so many things.

"When it first came out, there were no classes or introductions to it," she said. "The training is going to be so helpful in my everyday job. I use it primarily for e-mail, but now I know how to create groups in e-mails so I don't have to type as much when sending out messages."

Sanders said the training was a little overwhelming at first, but she said Jones was a good instructor and helped her grasp the material.

"He went a little fast at first, but he was very good. If we had questions he slowed down for us and worked with us directly when we needed it," she said.

Jones said he hopes the people in the class will take the knowledge they've learned and encourage others to sign up for the course or pass it along themselves.

"Once people are able to get comfortable using the system, I hope they pass that knowledge on to others," Jones said. "That's another benefit of this training. People who go through this class can then pass it along to other people and help them learn to use it as well."

For more information or to sign up for future courses, call 255-0072.