Army Distance Learning: Potential for Reducing Shortages in Army Enlisted Occupations

By Michael G. Shanley; Henry A. Leonard et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
AN APPROACH TO ANALYZING APPROPRIATE
DL-BASED ARMY STRATEGIES FOR ALLEVIATING
PERSONNEL SHORTAGES

Given that personnel shortages pose readiness problems for the Army, the next question is whether DL can help in alleviating those shortages and thereby help improve readiness. The idea that DL might have an impact on alleviating shortage MOSs is based on DL's potential for being faster and more efficient than traditional residential training. For example, DL can give students more access to training time and materials. As a result, training might be designed to begin immediately after a requirement is identified and at or near home station, rather than having the soldier wait for an opening in a resident training program at a school or training center—a class that would require temporary duty (TDY) or permanent change of station (PCS) orders. Further, access to DL is improved if training lessons can be broken into smaller parts, more suitable for working into the continuing responsibilities of an existing job. Also, DL can improve training focus. If courses are modularized into distinguishable parts, students can take only that part of the training that is critical to their assignment. Finally, as technology can enhance the speed of learning, DL course lengths can decrease.

Of course, all these benefits speak to the “potential” of DL, because DL's potential really has not been quantified. In this chapter, we outline an approach to help us understand the real benefits behind the potential. The first task in this approach was to summarize strategies that the Army already uses for reducing MOS shortages and look to see how DL could be an enabler and expediter for those strategies. Second, we chose specific MOS examples to measure how DL might help lessen either the shortage itself or the cost of reducing it. In defining how DL would become part of existing strategies, we

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