We have probably all heard the adage that “the only constant is change.” Undoubtedly, this phrase rings true for those of us in today’s military space. Over the past several years, the military has seen vast changes in everything from the challenges it faces to the technology it uses. With soldiers stationed and deployed throughout the world, a new generation of young, tech-savvy recruits, and ever-tightening budgets, the military must remain agile enough to evolve with these changes.
With these factors in mind, how can military trainers best adapt to current trends while preparing for what lies ahead? Here are my thoughts on best practices for modern military training:
- Use time wisely: Effectively engaging military learners is easier said than done especially when you consider the extraordinary demands placed on their time. Instead of spending critical training time teaching young, tech-savvy soldiers how to use technology they are already familiar with, including learning management systems (LMS) and smartphones, focus on instructing them on how to leverage these tools on the ground.
- Foster collaboration: The military prepares soldiers to work together as a team, so why should their classroom training be any different? Use collaboration tools that combine formal instruction with informal learning and structured social interaction to help learners share knowledge with one another so they will be best prepared to succeed as a unit.
A few weeks ago, Blackboard was proud to host its first Federal Series Event, featuring speakers from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ HR Academy, the Federal Aviation Administration, and The Graduate School. The event provided attendees the opportunity to network with others in the federal training space and provided new insights into best practices in blended and distance learning.
During a presentation from The Graduate School, Dr. Sharon Fratta-Hill presented several tools and strategies she has leveraged in blended learning environments. I learned quite a bit during her presentation, including these best practices for engaging distance learning:
1. Sharing audio and video isn’t enough. Even though multimedia content is a great way to grab learners’ interest, they will learn more from media content when given the opportunity to collaborate with their peers. To foster interaction, encourage students to leave constructive thoughts and questions on multimedia content to spark discussion and dialogue.
As I have discussed in a recent post, Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel is pushing for government IT initiatives that “enable the delivery of digital information and services anytime, anywhere, on any device, safely and securely-throughout the Federal workforce and to the American public.” This digital government movement seeks to develop a more open and agile government IT system, and is driven by the coming of age of cloud computing.
But can military and defense agencies be a part of this movement to the cloud? And if so, how can they reap the benefits of cloud computing while mitigating risks?
Pros and Cons of the Federal Cloud
Listing the benefits of cloud computing is easy: not only can the cloud help large agencies save on IT infrastructure costs, but it also allows for “on-demand” access to computing power from any location. Though all agencies need to be aware of the costs of the cloud, these benefits alone make it an easy choice for many within government.
When it comes to the military and defense community, however, there are several key factors to consider that make moving to the cloud more of a risk:
- Security and privacy: In defense IT, data location and access is of critical importance, and different data exist at different levels of sensitivity and importance. As a result, defense and military outlets may be wary of moving their classified data and mission-critical computer power off-site.
“Staff turnover is as inevitable as death and taxes, and for government it looms on the horizon. By the end of 2015, according to OPM projections, more than 50 percent of the 7,746 senior executives in place at the beginning of 2011 will have left government, taking with them key institutional knowledge and critical skills.” So begins recent study published by the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton entitled “Preparing the People Pipeline: A Federal Succession Planning Primer.”
As we get closer to that 2015 turnover projection, what can federal agencies do to recruit and prepare the next generation of government leadership? To answer this question, Lisa Doyle of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently led a webinar to share her thoughts on using government training as a platform for effective succession planning.
Image via TechCrunch
At last month’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference, U.S. CTO Todd Park and U.S. CIO Steven Van Roekel made an announcement that will change the way we access and use government data. Their announcement was centered on the launch of a new “digital roadmap” that will encourage wider use of government data while making that data more open and more easily accessible to the public. As the writers at TechCrunch put it: “With the launch of the new digital roadmap, the U.S. government is hoping to increase the way that users can access data in many different ways. It’s also designed to decrease inefficiency in government and to allow developers to build applications that the government would never have dreamed up.” The digital roadmap is based upon the following concepts:
- Open Data as the new default
- Anywhere, any time on any device
- Everything should be an API
- Make government data social
- Change the meaning of social participation