Advances in defense sector learning


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Advances in defense sector learning

  1. 1. Advances in Defense Sector Learning by Bob LittleIntroductionAdvances being made in content management technologies, standards and methodologies are making the tasks ofthose responsible for providing training and performance support for the world’s armed forces easier and more ef-ficient. Ensuring that military personnel have up-to-date, just-in-time and on-demand information to keep them everready to perform their duties is a challenge that, until now, has been nearly impossible to overcome.Not being able to do this brings a number of problems – especially when personnel are on operations. For one thing,research has revealed that casualties among military personnel often happen because someone is using equipmentthat has been serviced with out-of-date technical publications. To make matters worse, people can spend up to 50per cent of their time looking for information because they don’t know where to find it.The watchword in the defense sector is ‘readiness’. Military personnel have to be ready to perform their duties when-ever and wherever they are required to perform them. They can be trained in these duties but, in order to performthem well – and outperform the enemy – they need access to up-to-date, just-in-time information.While technology has played a part in helping to deliver more up-to-date information than was previously possible, itis only in the last year or so that technological advances are making possible the delivery of accurate, relevant, up-to-date information as and when it is needed. ~1~ © eXact learning solutions 2010
  2. 2. Advances in Defense Sector LearningTechnical HindrancesUp to now, one of the technological hindrances has been the development of proprietary software to produce databases to store technicalpublications and other maintenance resources. Moreover, the learning content has tended to be kept in a separate database from technicalpublications.Thankfully, the technology now exists that allows data to be stored in one virtual location, rather than in a number of ‘silos’. In addition, digitalrepository technology now allows the processes by which learning materials can be compiled and accessed to be streamlined.One of the world’s major developers of learning content management systems and digital repositories, eXact learning solutions enables itssystems to be accessed by mobile technology. eXact learning solutions’ solutions serve as a content broker providing advanced searching ca-pabilities and access to a great many intelligent databases for just-in-time delivery to front line troops via PDAs and other hand-held devicesand heads up displays.In 2008, eXact learning solutions acquired the HarvestRoad Hive digital repository system, which manages any form of content used in onlinelearning, corporate training and knowledge management initiatives. HarvestRoad Hive can interface with practically any ERP, learning orcourse management system and is integrated with several commonly used course management systems, authoring and content assemblytools.HarvestRoad Hive is designed to establish a bridge between islands of content within and across multiple institutions or organizations,regardless of the type of content or purpose for its existence. HarvestRoad Hive is used to store and manage so called ’learning objects‘ orSCORM and S1000DAccording to John Rowling, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), for the HarvestRoad Hive product line – which was used for a SCORM-S1000Dproof-of-concept implementation for ADL and US DoD, and the NATO M-FASR OSID proof-of-concept: “eXact learning solutions, with its manyyears of expertise in building intelligent databases and the application of learning technologies standards, such as SCORM 2004 and techni-cal publications specifications, such as S1000D, is able to organize vast amounts of data, and make this data not only deliverable but alsousable by service personnel – often ‘in the field’.”He added: “One of the unique challenges of building content into today’s complex environment of multiple standards is building frameworksthat facilitate the integration of the myriad components. While SCORM integration fits neatly into traditional e-learning development andS1000D tools are easily available, authors who create mobile content are, typically, removed from learning and documentation standards. Yetadopting a content development approach that has the standards support embedded in the templates and models provided by tools such aseXact learning solutions’ eXact LCMS® can make the process effective, efficient and transparent to the authors.”eXact learning solutions supplies an Open Service Interface Definition (OSID)-based federated content search, discovery, and exchangeacross digital content systems which are used in some NATO countries. This facilitates the use of both standards-compliant and non-stand-ards-compliant content enabling, among other things, the measurement of the efficiency of content reuse.In mission-critical environments - including energy, utilities, defense, transportation, pharmaceuticals and aerospace - there is a marketdriver to digitalize ‘technical content’ such as manuals and maintenance resources for effectiveness, efficiency and productivity purposes.Additionally, there is an immediate requirement to reuse the technical content within associated training courses without the requirement tore-author the authoritative source content in the manuals – providing timeliness, accuracy and portability of information to increase occupa-tional health and safety performance of systems and platforms. ~2~ © eXact learning solutions 2010
  3. 3. Advances in Defense Sector LearningLinking content in this way means that changing an item in a technical manual in the design process automatically updates the relevanttraining course. This reuse model is often referred to as linking ‘structured content’ (technical publications) with ‘unstructured content’ (learn-ing courses) and it supports a ‘write once – use many times’ ethos.“eXact learning solutions’ solutions have been developed with a strong focus on the international standards, specifications and applicationprofiles that have become the de-facto standards for managing and delivering learning content or objects,” said Rowling. “They are inde-pendent of the systems that create or assemble content and independent of the systems that deliver online learning experiences, such aslearning management systems (LMS). This means that an organization’s investment in its legacy LMS is preserved because eXact learningsolutions’ system will integrate with any LMS or ERP system and is designed to share content across multiple instances of its application aswell as across other repositories within or external to an organization.”In recent years, SCORM has become the de facto standard for interoperable learning applications and content. It has been widely imple-mented in learning applications. It is a mandated requirement for applications and content used by the United States Department of Defensefor education and / or training and is a common requirement in education and training tenders around the globe. S1000D is of interest to allorganizations in the aerospace (both civil and military) and defense sectors. It defines the structure and presentation of technical documen-tation covering technical manuals, maintenance procedures and Interactive Electronic Technical Publications (IETPs) for all equipment andvehicles – land, sea or air.National defense departments across Europe and the United States have stipulated S1000D as a procurement requirement throughout thesupply chain from manufacture through to acceptance. S1000D also defines the requirements for a common source database (CSDB) orrepository that holds the documentation in electronic format.Time & Cost Savings – and other benefitsRecent thinking on the part of stakeholder communities has concluded that considerable savings in both time and financial cost can be real-ized if training materials, especially learning materials, could be sourced directly from S1000D content by transforming it dynamically at thetime of delivery. This has formed the basis of the SCORM / S1000D Alignment project.The key benefit in being able to reuse content in this way goes beyond embedding multimedia within technical manuals: it is the ability toassemble new publications and courses by reusing components from the trusted source content. When these source items are updated, thereis notification, version control and publishing services available to manage the process effectively and maintain the integrity of the content.And, while the alignment of S1000D and SCORM is primarily taking place in the defense and related industries, the commercial benefits ofsuch an alignment are being appreciated across many other sectors.About the AuthorFor over 20 years, Bob Little has specialised in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning – especially eLearning – and technology-relatedsubjects. His work has been published in the UK, Continental Europe, the USA and AustraliaeXact learning solutionseXact learning solutions, formerly Giunti Labs, is a leading online and mobile learning content management and digital repository eXact learning solutions - Headquarterssolutions provider, offering a wide range of tools and services for content development, management and delivery, covering: Abbazia dell’Annunziata • Multi-language bespoke learning content production Via Portobello - Baia del Silenzio • Content management and digital repository platforms 16039 Sestri Levante (GE) Italy • Mobile learning technologies • Consulting and professional services Tel +39.0185.4761The company has over fifteen years of experience and more than 100 clients worldwide. Our technological innovations allow Fax +39.0185.43.347enterprises to improve their organizational performance, and achieve significant reductions in business costs. ~3~ © eXact learning solutions 2010