The growing power and effectiveness of online learning has become more broadly acknowledged, whether in the form of online universities or even single specialty courses. Instruction delivered over the Internet offers the flexibility that many need fused with expert instructors and content.
Now the Army has essentially admitted the power of online instruction. The Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, has created its own online app store. The purpose is to enable soldiers to gain access to the body of knowledge wherever they might be, via smartphone or tablet, as Military.com explained.
“They are using those devices every day to get the information they need. And usually, that’s through a mobile app of some sort. What we are trying to do is ensure that we use what they are using already in order to get the information to them. We have a digital Army, and Soldiers have that digital mindset – and we are just capitalizing on that,” [said Lt. Col. Joseph A. Harris Jr., TRADOC capability manager for mobile learning].
This isn’t a brand new development. Interest first started coalescing in 2013. In the summer of 2014, the Army was already in serious discussion about using wireless technology and mobile devices to deliver training and educational materials. At that point, officials were considering the need for the necessarily network infrastructure, balanced security and anywhere/anytime delivery requirements, access across a broad range of devices, and full access to information on a variety of educational, social, and governmental websites.
The impetus for online training and learning is effectiveness, convenience, and cost. Traditional courses require people to be available in specific physical locations at pre-determined times. Such requirements affect all scheduling. Personnel may be unavailable for other organizational needs. Some may find themselves unable to attend classes on a regular basis, which undermines their ability to develop skills and knowledge that would be important to the Army.
The online app store is a logical development of the interest in mobile online education. The approach allows more control and security over content and access than would be possible working through either the Google or Apple app stores. In addition, the Army will be able to add or modify content quickly. That is important given that user expectations influenced by consumer apps have driven many organizations that develop their own apps to run frequent updates, often happening every few weeks.
As many enlisted personnel have found previously, online education also makes it possible for people to advance themselves, even making progress in degree programs, while continuing to attend to their duties.
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