Accountability and Productivity through SCORM 2004 in the Defense Manpower Data Center RAPIDS Certification Program

Article excerpt

Introduction

INNOVATIVE LEARNING SYSTEM FEATURES A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND, SCORM-CONFORMANT INFRASTRUCTURE

A groundbreaking distance learning program created by Booz Allen Hamilton, in partnership with the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), uses a standards-based approach to certify learners in secure environments around the world, enhancing the effectiveness of training, reducing costs, and holding application users to strict performance standards. DMDC earned the 2006 United States Distance Learning Association 21st Century Best Practices in Distance Learning award for the use of a Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) 2004-conformant approach to learning. Its innovative practices are a model for organizations in the use of the SCORM standard.

BACKGROUND

As part of the Office of the Under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the DMDC supports the information management needs of and develops software applications for the DoD and its service members. DMDC also provides training for users of its applications. The SCORM standard establishes a common structure for courses housed on the government learning management system (LMS) so their content can be more easily organized, tracked, and reused for other training. SCORM-conformant courseware also reduces the cost of course maintenance.

Booz Allen's largest curriculum effort with DMDC-and the first set of courses to be delivered by the Enterprise Training Program's LMS-is the Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) user certification program. Department of Defense personnel use RAPIDS to issue military identification credentials. DMDC, as the manager of the DoD's human resource information, administers the RAPIDS program for the Department of Defense (DoD). RAPIDS personnel act as critical gatekeepers to the nation's defense information and facilities by controlling the issuance of Common Access Cards (CACs) and other identification media. CACs are military identification credentials encrypted with biometric information and used throughout the world to: access networks and secure information systems; enter DoD facilities, such as base commissaries; and to draw on government benefits, such as medical care.

With the Enterprise Training Program, DMDC established accountability and a standard of knowledge through its certification of CAC issuance personnel. DMDC also improved learning productivity by reducing the time needed to master learning content.

SCORM 2004 SYSTEM ESTABLISHES A STANDARD OF KNOWLEDGE FOR USERS

Through the use of performance-based assessments and the advanced sequencing capability available through the use of SCORM 2004-conformant courseware delivered through a certified SCORM 2004 LMS, DMDC has, for the first time anywhere, established a true standard of knowledge by which to certify users of its applications. The evaluation model used in the RAPIDS courseware, for example, includes both pretest and posttest assessments that require the learner to demonstrate mastery of the subject matter before graduation.

PERFORMANCE-BASED ASSESSMENT ENABLES COMPREHENSIVE CERTIFICATION OF LEARNERS

The certification program exams contain a mix of "traditional" questions, such as multiple-choice, matching, and true-false questions (that test knowledge-based learning objectives) and application simulations (that test performance-based learning objectives). The performance-based assessments are application "simulations." These simulations are a major component of the pretest exam, the content delivery lessons, and the posttest exam. Course developers produce performance-based simulations using Adobe Captivate, a tool that models a series of actions that the user would have to complete in the actual application. The simulations are employed in the effective Guide-Me, Let-Me-Try, and Test-Me approach. The use of simulations is a particularly effective method of training personnel in an environment that closely emulates their actual work conditions. …