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Improving the Effectiveness of Army Distributed Learning: A Research and Policy Agenda

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Occasional paper

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As part of an ambitious plan to transform its training practices, the U.S. Army has established a large distributed learning DL program. This program is intended to enable the Army to provide decentralized training using one or more information and communication technologies or a combination of classroom training and technology-mediated training. The Army Distributed Learning Program, or TADLP, is a comprehensive program that is implementing DL through digital training facilities, courseware, learning management systems, and other strategies and supporting mechanisms. Under this program, the Army is in the process of implementing a plan to convert 525 training courses to DL by the year 2010. DL in the Army involves the following 1 the delivery of individual, collective, and self-development training to soldiers and units at any time and any place 2 through multiple means and technologies 3 using special techniques for course design, instruction, methods of communication, and organizational and administrative arrangements. Through DL, the Army aims to achieve five goals 1 train to one standard, 2 improve unit readiness, 3 reduce costs, 4 improve morale, and 5 improve training efficiency. The purpose of this report is to examine the benefits and challenges of DL for learning. In particular, the authors review research that compares DL to classroom or residential learning RL, which is the current standard for training. The results were consistent with other reviews that found no clear advantage for DL or RL on learning. Thus, the authors present three sets of recommendations to help the Army meet its goals for DL the kinds of questions that should be addressed in a well-defined program of research on the effectiveness of DL improving the quality of research by using rigorous methods that yield credible results and a set of policies that are needed to support the design, implementation, and evaluation of DL in the Army.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Psychology
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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