DOD simulation workers to get an e-learning portal

The Advanced Distance Learning Co-Lab

The Air Force is developing a distance-learning Web portal specifically for its modeling and simulation workforce.

The service developed a prototype portal with the Defense Department's Joint Advanced Distributed Learning Collaborative Laboratory, one of three so-called co-labs working on distance-learning issues. Created about a year ago, the joint laboratory has 25 pilot programs sponsored by the individual services and various defense agencies including the Air Force simulation community portal, which will be in development until June 2002.

The portal will give service-specific information to new personnel coming into the modeling and simulation divisions, said Dianne Parrish, professional development branch chief at the Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation (AFAMS) in Orlando. "They have to wait quite a while before they get any fundamental training, and they never really get Air Force-specific training," she said. "This was, we thought, a great opportunity to get that information out to them upon assignment and to improve their job performance."

Unlike the other services, the Air Force does not have a separate modeling and simulation career path because it does not have enough positions to warrant it. So it relies on on-the-job training to bring people into the field, said Col. Gerard Veshosky, chief of the AFAMS operations division. A commander can determine if someone is qualified after a year on the job.

The portal will serve as an online school for those service members who enter into the modeling and simulation field, Veshosky said, because "not everyone can go to the schoolhouse."

Air Force modeling and simulation personnel work in three areas: training, acquisition and analysis. The new Web portal will enable them to take online courses designed specifically for their area of expertise, as well as more general courses. The prototype has courses at the novice level, but later versions will include courses at the intermediate and advanced levels.

Courses on the prototype site include intermittent quizzes to ensure that users understand the information presented.

"We want [personnel] to be able to come to one place to get modeling and simulation information," Parrish said. "It is going to serve to provide them not only with training but with refresher training."

MORE INFO

The Defense Department created the Joint Advanced Distributed Learning

Collaborative Laboratory in 1999 at the Institute for Defense Analysis.

The lab encourages collaborative research, development and assessment of

tools, standards, content and guidelines for distance learning.

In January 2000, the Pentagon established an independent Academic ADL

Co-Lab with the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Technical

College System to promote development of next-generation technologies that

enable distributed learning, principally among academic institutions.

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