Although once considered to be the fastest and less expensive alternative to classroom training, recent lessons learned have proven otherwise. The use of complex interactivity, media, gaming, and simulations in Distributed Learning (DL) can lead to increased costs and development time. Consideration of the following criteria will help you to decide if DL is the right learning solution you require:
Q: Is the content stable?
A: If the answer is “No” then DL may not be the right choice. If the content is subject to frequent changes, consider building your course on a Life Cycle Management System (LCMS), such as the Lifelong Learning Center (LLC) where content can be updated by the course manager. Contracted DL may require more time than other options.
Q: Does the content require a sense of taste, smell, or touch?
A: Taste, smell, and touch are still not features of Army DL. Generally speaking, if training requires any one of these three senses, DL is likely not the best choice.
Q: Does the content require an instructor to lead or facilitate the
A: Research shows that instructor's contact is the most important factor contributing to DL student success. Contact must be regular, on scheduled activities and substantive (have real purpose or objectives).
Q: Does the content require the learner to interact with other learners
A: If the answer is “Yes”, consider a blended approach or delivery via Lifelong Learning Center where students can interact via social media tools or within course-threaded discuss- ions. Student interactions enrich the content by sharing backgrounds and experiences.
Q: Does the assessment require a proctor or in-person monitoring?
A:Web based assessments can be secured using password and login or Common Access Card (CAC) authentication to access exams. Although not 100 percent secure, they are considered to be trustworthy as long as the information isn’t shared by the students. If an onsite proctor is needed then DL may not be the best choice. Consider sending students to an education center for proctored exams. There are some applications that can be used in the LLC that secure the assessments and should be considered in this decision.
The Army Distributed Learning Program provides oversight of the Distributed Learning (DL) content process. This process includes program overview, governance, plans, and policy for DL and training/education support to enhance learning of agile Soldiers and Army civilians by exploiting current and new technologies.
TRADOC Centers and Schools as well as other Army activities can use the Army’s preferred contract for DL (See Contract Basics). Requiring activities (RAs) must agree to the Memorandum of Understanding for Use of the Army University contract. TRADOC entities will compete for annual funding while activities outside of TRADOC must fund their DL requirements internally. Both should follow local resource management processes to develop their AMO packages.
a. DDL coordinates with proponents on development of the AMO package for their prioritized products. Proponents are defined as Requiring Activities (RA) within the AMO process.
b. Requiring activities identify the types of delivery media to be developed, the approximate number of instructional hours (per media type), determine the desired instructional and assessment strategy and build the performance work statement (PWS). There are three worked samples to assist in building the draft PWS. These are ALMS, ELLC, and 3D Model. There is also a general PWS provided. A signed memorandum from the Director of Training (DOT) is required to validate the requirement.
c. The DDL assists the RA in development of the PWS by answering questions about delivery platform, instructional and technical standards, and assessment strategies. DDL also assists in the preparation of the RA’s independent government cost estimate (IGCE) as part of the acquisition package for each course contracted for development. DDL assists in the development of additional documents for the AMO as requested by RAs (See Roles and Responsibilities in Appendix B).
It is recommended that the RA begin their AMO package using the draft PWS and IGCE following this or a similar timeline after a decision to teach via DL and to contract that work.
d. DL funding and contractor support only begins after RAs certify their documentation and government furnished information (GFI) as adequate.
e. Contracted DL projects require a concerted upfront effort to achieve an effective solicitation process. Contractors need to know the availability, quantity, and quality of GFI/government furnished materials (GFM) before they submit a bid on a task order (TO). A member of the DDL team contacts RAs to help with this part of the process. DDL will coordinate receipt and review of GFI or GFM as appropriate. The DDL team reviews and certifies that the technical GFI and GFM is enough to enable the contractor to perform the task successfully.
The RAs prepare an acquisition package for CAC approval or follow their local approval process.
DDL completes the acquisition package with local contracting offices once the AMO is approved. DDL and an onsite COR (OSCOR) from the RA performs contract oversight.