E-learning formats run from A to Z: Here are seven samples

E-learning formats run from A to Z: Here are seven samples

What: Army Research Laboratories online training and research at Fort Sill, Okla.

Program: As part of the Army's Scenario-Based Analysis and Assessment Research for Collaborative Systems effort, ARL is using Scenarios from WisdomTools Inc. of Bloomington, Ind., as a research tool. The project lets users and researchers define requirements for developing collaborative software systems. The application creates a simulated environment and asks participants to react'such as commenting on and critiquing the actions taken by the characters'as they would in real life.

Number of users: Twenty on-base

Types of instruction: Some of the contact with the learners is face-to-face; most of the interaction occurs online.

Access: Internet

Courseware: Text, graphics and real-time interaction with instructors

Benefits: The course is distributed and collaborative, with customized scenarios that can be guided by an instructor who asks and answers questions, and oversees students' progress.

What: Army University Access Online

Program: The Army's online education program offers higher education degrees and advanced certifications with course content provided by a variety of universities and learning centers. PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. of New York is the contractor, along with a consortium of technology vendors. Saba Learning Enterprise from Saba Software Inc. of San Francisco provides the learning management infrastructure.

Number of users: The service estimates about 80,000 soldiers over the next five years. The Army is deploying the program at three posts and has plans for global distribution.

Types of instruction: Anytime access

Access: All courses are available via the Internet. The program gives each enrolled soldier a notebook PC, printer, Internet connection and software for Web access.

Courseware: Varied, including instructor-led, Web training, computer-based training, videos, books and multimedia simulations, plus real-time interaction with instructors

Benefits: Improved retention rate for enlisted personnel; accelerated soldier time-to-competency, especially for high-tech missions; enhanced personal growth for soldiers; improved training and deployment of recruiting force; recruitment incentive

What: Distance Learning School of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps' Cadet Command

Program: Job and orientation training for incoming cadets to Army ROTC, using IBM Mindspan Solutions' Lotus LearningSpace 4.0 under a contract with American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va.

Number of users: 800 per year at as many as 276 colleges and universities nationwide

Types of instruction: Anytime access

Access: Internet and CD-ROM

Courseware: Largely multimedia software

Benefits: Saves money

What: Online Training for Nuclear Weapons Accident Response Group at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.

Program: Sandia needed to improve access to its videotaped accident response training program on safe handling of nuclear weapons. Tapes were available only at one location and could not be taken from the premises; the only way to search for something within a tape was to play it.

Sandia chose Screening Room, a video content manager from Convera of Vienna, Va., to digitize, index, annotate and manage the lab's video library. Authorized users can access the videotape library remotely, pinpoint specific subjects and preview the content.

Number of users: There are dozens at Sandia and within the Energy Department. Eventually the system will be available to all authorized users at Sandia, Energy and others with access to Sandia's intranet.

Types of instruction: Video on demand

Access: The most sensitive video footage is accessible only via the organization's classified internal networks; unclassified information can be accessed via Sandia's intranet.

Courseware: Video content that can be annotated with text documents and descriptors to enhance database searches

Benefits: The systems improve availability of and access to the training videos, reduce labor and travel costs, and provide better management of the video library. Also, Sandia had invested several years and thousands of dollars to develop its own video capture and management system. Installing Screening Room took one and a half days plus two days of training for about a dozen people.

What: Defense Systems Management College of the Defense Acquisition University

Program: There are two programs: the Program Management Tools Course and the Program Management Office Course, developed and managed by the Defense Department and Accenture LLP of Chicago. The Program Management Tools Course is an 80-hour Web course in which students learn how to use program management tools and apply them as part of a virtual integrated product team. The Program Management Office Course is an advanced course that uses Web and classroom training.

Number of users: About 250 students will take the management tools course this year, with more than 700 expected to enroll next year. More than 700 students are expected to take the management office course, which begins next year.

Types of instruction: Anytime access and either collaborative online teams or classroom instruction

Access: Intranet and Internet

Courseware: Text and hands-on exercises for management tools course; simulations and goal-based learning for management office course

Benefits: The training meets the Defense Acquisition University's business plan for goal-based learning through a virtual learning environment. The program saves money and reduces time spent in classroom instruction and away from work.

What: Naval Air Systems Command's Aviation Maintenance Training Continuum System

Program: AMTCS comprises all training and associated infrastructure for support of naval aviation maintenance training. Using Pathlore Learning Management System from Pathlore Software Corp. of Columbus, Ohio, it provides training and training management tools through interactive courseware, computer-managed instruction, computer-aided instruction and the AMTCS Software Module (ASM).

Number of users: When fully deployed, it will reach up to 250,000 users at every Navy and Marine Corps command with a naval aviation mission. ASM is now in use at naval aviation maintenance training group detachments and is scheduled to be implemented this year at F-14, F/A-18 and E-2 and C-2 fleet squadrons.

Types of instruction: Anytime access

Access: Currently intranet and standalone PC; Web access planned

Courseware: Primarily multimedia interactive software

Benefits: The program makes training available to Navy and Marine aviation technicians as needed, wherever it is needed, whether in the schoolhouse, on shore or deployed. The technicians' skills, knowledge and abilities are improved in less time and at less cost.

What: Aviation Training Network at the Federal Aviation Administration Academy

Program: Technical, management and information broadcasts using KnowledgeSite Classroom Version 4.3 from One Touch Knowledge Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif.

Number of users: Up to 579 participants in a session from up to 58 One Touch KnowledgeSite Classrooms nationwide, reaching 70 percent of FAA employees within a 25-mile radius of the workplace

Types of instruction: Preset classroom sessions

Access: Compressed digital satellite TV

Courseware: A mix of text documents and multimedia simulations, including both audio and data interaction with instructors. Students can answer questions using a touchpad and ask questions in real time.

All participants can view the session, although there is an anonymous feature that lets a student alert the instructor'for instance, if he's having trouble with the material'without being identified. Results of each session can be used for evaluation and certification.

Benefits: The program saves time and money and lets employees participate at their duty location, reducing time away from home and work.

For example, the academy was responsible in 1999 for quickly training FAA aviation security personnel on procedural changes for the Dangerous Goods/Cargo Security Program. Over four days, the academy trained several hundred security employees at 37 sites. Courses that would have required between eight and 16 hours to conduct in Oklahoma City were completed remotely in six hours. The FAA program manager calculated the entire four-day program was delivered to 318 students at a cost of $18 per student.


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