Navy builds online training center

Building on the concept that data should be created once and used often, the Navy this month launched an effort to centralize the service's training materials online.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, Fla., finalized a four-year, $7.5 million deal with OutStart Inc. to create a repository for those materials. The goal is for the Navy to move toward enterprisewide, Web-based learning tools.

Michael Meaney, a program manager with the division, said the Navy traditionally has stored all course materials at the individual education centers. Materials can include text documents, 3-D graphics, simulations and sound files.

"If we can reuse those, there are a lot of efficiencies that can be gained," Meaney said. "It is kind of an 'author once, deploy many times' concept."

Massood Zarrabian, OutStart's president and chief executive officer, said the Navy is trying to consolidate training materials in a single environment to ensure consistency and save money.

The Navy Integrated Learning Asset Repository System will include content development standards and collaborative authoring and development capabilities. The system will make those resources available across the Navy.

"This is going to become very important to us as a tool," said Peg David, director of e-learning for the Chief of Naval Education and Training, the Navy's major training and education command.

"The key to making this system work is standardization," Meaney said. Accordingly, the service is creating a standard naming process for storing all data, which will make it easily searchable, he added.

Using OutStart's Evolution software, Navy officials will develop and convert content into items that can be stored in the new system.

Because the materials will be available online, sailors can continue their training while at sea, Zarrabian said. They will be able to view the materials via an intranet or download them onto their PCs.

Furthermore, Evolution's capabilities enable students to assess their comprehension of the materials they are reviewing, he said.

The system will initially be deployed in classrooms at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando, the Chief of Naval Education and Training command in Pensacola, Fla., and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego.

OutStart will work with Thinq Learning Solutions Inc., which provides the Navy's learning management system for e-learning initiatives, David said. The contract award was scheduled to take place last year, but was delayed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Meaney said.

The contract represents OutStart's first venture into the government market. Zarrabian said that, in many ways, the Navy and federal agencies are more advanced then the private sector in their approach to e-learning.

"The Navy has an outstanding vision as to what they want to accomplish," he said.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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