"There will be new technologies and some of these are predicted. However, principles of learning and teaching at a distance are relatively stable; it is necessary to evaluate the value of each technology for how it contributes to improving the applications of these principles." (Moore & Kearsley, 2005, p. 305)
What preeminent and accessible technologies most effectively and efficiently train our soldiers, regardless of schedules and global positions?
Alan Davis a former Vice-President of Athabasca University wrote that there are two essentials on which all instructional systems should focus: “the needs of the intended students and the learning outcomes of the course or program”. (Davis, 2004, p. 98)
The U. S. Department of Defense (DOD) believes that virtual worlds (VW) are the answer to getting the results needed by using VW to train soldiers. DOD believes that VW modalities presently provide some of the most innovative and available technologies being used to design systems of teaching and learning. VWs provide U. S. soldiers with “hands-on” training at any time at any place.
Through the DOD Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative, individuals and units worldwide receive specific on-demand training through Distance Education. The U.S. Army Research Institute carried out several investigation projects to identify specific technologies and methodologies that promote superior ADL experiences. Their conclusions reveal that VW technologies, such as Second Life, are both successful and proficient in training soldiers with knowledge and skills specific to certain jobs, programs, and missions.
DOD is determined to educate and train soldiers with the most current top-notch methodologies for their DL curriculum. The ADL learning goals focus on distributing and supporting specific content for precise functions by using innovative technologies to accomplish DOD’s vision.
The DOD's vision for the ADL is to harness the power of the Internet and other virtual or private wide-area networks (WANs) to deliver high-quality learning. It brings together intelligent tutors, distributed subject matter experts, real-time in-depth learning management and a diverse array of support tools to ensure a responsive, high-quality “learner-centric” system. To realize this vision, the ADL has tailored its efforts around six strategic functions: to exploit existing network-based technologies; to create platform-neutral, reusable courseware and content to lower costs; to promote widespread collaboration to satisfy common needs; to enhance performance with emerging and next-generation learning technologies; to develop a common framework that drives commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product cycle; and to establish a coordinated implementation process. (http://www.doncio.navy.mil/elearning/Case_DOD_NG.htm)
Not long ago, VWs were considered a next-generation learning technology. Today, however, virtual reality (VR) is here. Bates and Poole...