The Learning Experience

Dear Colleagues of Metro Skywarn,

It is often said, “We learn best by doing.” While we do our best to provide examples of proper spotting practices in our classes, it is a common occurrence that many spotters will not adhere to our teachings on a net during an active severe weather event. We now have recording capabilities for our primary repeater, and we can use those recordings to preset real-life, exemplary situations where spotters followed proper procedures. I believe a spotter will remember more from hearing a radio interchange during a class, than from reading an example conversation on paper.

During our evening tornado drill on April 14, Bloomington Communication Group allowed a young person to take to the radio. They stuttered, had trouble asking pertinent questions to sample reports, and was audibly hesitant in their communications. However, they were on the radio, learning to overcome those obstacles. This was a significant learning moment for this young person. They experienced something, rather than being taught something.

We need to continue this type of learning to bring in new, young amateur radio operators, and to prepare them to take control of EOCs in the future. Regardless of how much we put on paper during a class, nothing will prepare them for live communications more than hearing—and speaking—on active radio nets. To accomplish this effort, we can: (1) hold monthly practice nets, (2) provide recordings of exemplary communications, and (3) encourage enrollment and involvement within the community. Our spotters are often found volunteering for marathons, ham fests, radio clubs, and emergency management. In turn, we are recognized as an established foundation of the radio community. Let us continue to tune in to the experiences of our young radio operators.


David Riviera, WXØZZZ
Metro Skywarn, Inc.
Member, Board of Directors

Disclaimer: this memo was an assignment for my Experiential Learning class at the U. It turned out so well, I thought I’d share it.