Army breaks down classroom walls

Enclosed by a moat, Fort Monroe, Va., is rich in history. After the War of 1812, when Great Britain captured and burned Washington, D.C., the U.S. government reinforced America's coastal defenses. Construction of Fort Monroe, on the southeastern tip of Virginia, began in 1819, making it the first post in a new system of coastal defenses. In the early 1830s, Robert E. Lee served there as a lieutenant, and the fort served as a base of Union operations during the Civil War.

Today, the image of the historic fortress contrasts sharply with the modern training operations housed inside at the Army School of Cadet Command, which is using the Internet and CD-ROMs to train students across the country. The Distance Learning School of Cadet Command (DL SOCC) fulfills the school's training mission while improving the quality and reducing the cost of education.

The School of Cadet Command's mission is to provide instruction for the officers and noncommissioned officers who train Army ROTC cadets at universities. The DL SOCC e-learning course is composed of 37 modules, including lessons on mission management, performance assessment, resource management, retention strategies and medical requirements. The course has been in use for about a year.

DL SOCC grew out of a larger software contract — the Cadet Command Information Management System — that American Management Systems Inc. began work on in 1998. "We modified that contract to include distance learning," said AMS principal Nancy Hite.

AMS and the School of Cadet Command converted 39 traditional class sessions' worth of material into electronic format for the distance-learning system in 18 months, Hite said.

"We had a group of subject matter experts write the modules and then coordinate with AMS to get them in production," said Maj. Timothy Pike, com-- mandant of the school.

The process involved taking traditional class sessions of material, such as lectures and presentations, and converting them into electronic files. It also included the creation of audio and video elements, such as recording instructors demonstrating basic first-aid procedures, to help make the overall presentation more engaging and interactive.

To manage the 37 courseware modules and provide student administration features, AMS had selected the Pathware learning-management system, owned by Macromedia Inc., in 1998. AMS then chose Macromedia's Dreamweaver and Coursebuilder products to build the DL SOCC courses to work with Pathware. When IBM Corp. acquired Pathware in 1999 and integrated it with LearningSpace 4.0, from IBM subsidiary Lotus Development Corp., the Army school placed an order for an upgrade.

Subsequently, IBM installed Learning-Space 4.01 and removed Pathware early this year. Using a LearningSpace database utility to convert the Pathware database format into LearningSpace 4.01 format, the transition went smoothly, Hite said. "We were using the Microsoft SQL 7.0 database, so we didn't have to change that, and nothing else changed," she said. LearningSpace 4.01 works with IBM, Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp. databases. The school installed LearningSpace 4.01 on a Dell Computer Corp. Power-Edge 6300 with dual 500 MHz processors, 1G of RAM and a 13G hard drive running Windows NT Enterprise 4.0.

The most difficult challenge in managing DL SOCC has not been the system itself, but a problem that arose last year when students tried to log on to the Web site via certain Internet connections, Pike said. Often, they were connecting from a modem using a university system or an America Online Inc. account. "We had this running off a .mil domain when most of our students were dialing in from .com domains," Pike said.

The .mil domain contains a high level of security with many firewalls. Although the information on DL SOCC is not highly secure, students trying to connect from a .com domain experienced delays. Consequently, three months ago, the school replaced the DL SOCC .mil domain with a .com domain. Since then, there have been fewer connectivity problems. The e-learning system has saved the School of Cadet Command time and money. "We were flying 400-plus students from across the country to Fort Monroe, housing and feeding them for two weeks in a local hotel, and there were time constraints on the Cadet Command staff," Pike said.

"The cost savings associated with DL SOCC is an average of $109,000 per year in transportation and lodging," said Paul Kotakis, chief of Cadet Command public affairs. The savings reflects what it would cost to host about 460 students per year.

Pike said the use of e-learning has also improved the quality of education. "Each instructor says things differently, and instructors don't say the same thing the same way every time," Pike said. "This way, we know every student is getting the same base of knowledge."

E-learning systems enable all students to have access to the most effective instructors, said James Lundy, research director for knowledge and information management at Gartner Inc.

"The success of a classroom depends on the skill of instructors," he said. "When you automate it, you can leverage the skills of the best instructors so every student gets the benefit of that, not just the students who happen to be in that class."

Lundy said he expects to see increased use of e-learning systems. "I see it moving away from its early-adopter hype cycle to mainstream adoption."

Gerber is a freelance writer based in Kingston, N.Y.

NEXT STORY: GSA nominee faces biz decisions

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.