Transitions in eLearning environments: The Australian Army Diane Newton Allan Ellis

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  • Transitions in eLearning environments: The Australian Army

    Diane NewtonAllan Ellis

  • Research projectResearch into impact of eLearning Initial exploratory research-understand learning context and issuesHistorical documentsTrial course evaluationsObservation of classesPilot interviews (managers, developers, designers, instructors)Reports and papers


  • Why eLearning?Manager interviews:Minimise disruption to units, trainees and familiesDeliver standardised training across locations and members, including reservistsCreate an instructor surge capacity Reduce training costsMost importantly, optimise quality of learning experience: shift from training delivery to learning facilitationNEWTON & ELLIS

  • eLearning transitions1993-individuals, Army Doctrine Electronic Library (ADEL) CD-ROMs 1996-Strategic support: Defence Efficiency Review, TECHSIM1998-Regional Training Centres, flexible learning centres2000-Training Technology Centre2003- Australian Defence Organisation, Project DOMAIN, Shareable Content Object Referenced Material (SCORM) NEWTON & ELLIS

  • CD-ROMs or Web?

    Soldiers spend time in field trainingLimited bandwidth & reliability of Defence Restricted Network; access to computers and InternetOptimise learning experienceADO directive: ThinQ LMS, Evolution (Outstart)Distance Learning (reservists) trial NEWTON & ELLISNEWTON & ELLIS

  • Training Command Army, 2003, Technology Based Training SamplerNEWTON & ELLISAnimation: safe practical skills problem solving

  • Training Command Army, 2003, Technology Based Training SamplerNEWTON & ELLISFirst Aid: compulsory training

  • Training Command-Army, 2003, Technology Based Training SamplerNEWTON & ELLISScenario problem solving exercise

  • Army HQ Training Technology Centre, 2004NEWTON & ELLISIntroduction

  • NEWTON & ELLISArmy HQ Training Technology Centre, 2004

  • NEWTON & ELLISArmy HQ Training Technology Centre, 2004Lesson

  • NEWTON & ELLISArmy HQ Training Technology Centre, 2004Summary

  • NEWTON & ELLISArmy HQ Training Technology Centre, 2004Quiz

  • Course designers and developersExternal pressures-rapid change, change in autonomyLearners needs-main priorityChanging skill set-new programs & learning environmentTechnical-limited bandwidth, ADO requirementsCultural-decision-making, authoritarianNeed to build on existing skills, consultation & communication


  • InstructorsLearners needs- main priorityChanging role-facilitator, mentor, changing skillsStudent relationship- less questioning, control, authorityLearning environment- standardised, provides background, updating content Culture- tradition, decision-makingNeed for consultation, communication, flexibility in deliveryNEWTON & ELLIS

  • Further researchImpact on learning (theory, practical & retention in field)Impact of different contexts of learningStudents characteristics & perceptionsInstructors perceptions & role Measuring effectiveness of eLearningRelationship with military cultureOnline LMS roleWeb communications role??NEWTON & ELLIS

  • ContactsDiane


    School of Social SciencesSouthern Cross UniversityLismore, Australia

    I will briefly present my understanding so far of the main issues for the Army eLearning development.Interviewed past and current managers involved in implementing eLearning.Geographically dispersed population. Reduce time taken for training, minimise travel away from families and units.Instructor surge capacity-related to increasing operational level. Train more people at a time.Reduce travel and accommodation costs.Focus on a need to improve the learning experience from a push of training to involving students more or a pull of learning.

    Initially eLearning involved separate, uncoordinated projects. These were not financed centrally and often stopped when the main person involved left or moved on.eLearning developed from the interest of a few motivated individuals who considered that a change was necessary in the way that training was being provided. This was in response to both learning requirements and efficiency requirements This was supported through evolving policies and infrastructure development. Particularly important with constantly changing workforce. TECHSIM project assessed existing CBL and training needs. It recommended more flexible learning with self-paced learning and access to learning.Other parts of the Army are involved including the Land warfare Development Centre-doctrine, Training Command Training Packages-competency based , aligned with ANTA Training packages.This development has been managed internally in the Army until the external directive to implement Web-based learning from the Minister of Defence. Project DOMAIN: Defence Online Management and Instructional Network. Browser based programs.

    The Army has responded to this directive by focusing on the development of distance learning for reservists. This will include Evolution based courses delivered initially on CD-ROMs.Reservist distance learning is being trailed by HQ RTC.

    Early on the Army had to consider whether they would use the internet or CD-ROMs for delivery. They decided on CD-ROMs due to operational, technical and learning needs.Interactivity in terms of using Internet Communication had not been explored and was considered a more mature stage in the development.50 eLearning packages-40 gigabytes of software.Considered operational, technical and learning needsContent for first lot of CD-ROMs were officer induction courses for recruit training and all corps promotion training for sergeant and corporal.

    Learning situations that are provided Developed in Director and Flash. Animation-group problem solving for field based operations.First Aid. Compulsory training that has to be undertaken every year.High quality instructional videos and online assessment.. Videos with mentors and decision-making trees with responsive feedback for leadership.In their interviews the developers have found the standard ADO directive to use the Defence Frame restrictive. Role model-talk, dress act, stand dress in standard academic way. training, administration, leadership and operations Service discipline and law, operations, leadership, customs and traditions Defence Force standard frames. Reduced editable area. More standard navigation. Shorter video clip size.

    Standardised navigation and instructions to assist self-paced, self-contained learning.Follows standard lesson plan, considered important for soldiers. Structured lessons with hyperlinks to doctrine. More text based.Follows Army standard lesson plan-Introduction, Lesson, Summary, Quiz. Considered important for consistency for students.Online formative assessment with interactive feedback. Results recorded on LMS.Change issuesExternal pressures: created rapid change in their work requirements. Also decsions about the look and technical aspects were know out of their hands.need for consultationneed to understand new learning environment,, new programsThe nature of a large organisation makes consultation difficult.They felt that there was more need for consultation and coordination between the Army and outside organisations.Their view of change process to CBL. Too early to have an understanding of the shift to Web based, except it was thought that this could improve updating content, but this would depend on the improved organisational communication about changes. They didnt mention the communication aspects of the Web. This could reflect the current focus on classroom based learning or the more authoritarian culture of the Army.Conservative culture of the organisation provides challenges for eLearning it can also provide the strategic support and planning to encourage sustainability within ongoing changes in technology and operations.