Coming soon: A one-stop-shop for information about DOD’s online courses

Students from the Aerospace Medical Technician School explore Naval Education Training Command (NETC) smart phone applications. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign James A. Griffin/Released).

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The Department of Defense‘s mantra of increasing interoperability and data sharing between services and components has come to its education platforms.

A recent pilot launched by the DOD’s chief management officer aims to create a searchable catalog of every online course available across the military. The Enterprise Course Catalog builds on years of wanting to leverage enterprise IT to improve the data management of online education for DOD civilians and uniformed personnel.

Military services have taken major steps in upskilling employees, especially when it comes to technology and IT knowledge, but Pentagon leaders want to ensure those steps happen in unison with common a language to describe skills, the data to quantify progress and other interoperability measures, officials said Wednesday during a webinar produced by the National Defense Industry Association.

Being able to search for courses across the DOD will help both students and administrators, officials said. Duplicates can be merged or deleted, and harmonizing all the data will help leaders figure out how to design better pathways for coursework.

“This is not just about identifying ways to have more effective business processes, it is truly about a new paradigm of learning,” Sae Schatz, director of the DOD’s Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, said about how the DOD is approaching learning.

DOD started looking to modernize enterprise IT systems for education back in 2018 with the launch of Enterprise Digital Learning Modernization. The CMO, with cooperation from the Office of Personnel Management, has been leading the effort to modernize the education IT systems. Other initiatives have included the development of a “Universal Learner Record” to collect data on a learners’ lifetime of course work.

“It is time for us to start thinking of that commonality,” Lora Muchmore, director of defense business systems directorate in the CMO’s office, said during the webinar. “We can’t be afraid of enterprise, we can’t be afraid of common languages.”

The Air Force recently launched a pilot of its Digital University that will be fully up and running by the end of the year. It’s the exact type of digital platform the DOD wants to ensure all services have interoperability with.

“Our effort is working to change the way we think about education, and focus on tangible skills rather than courseware,” Lt. Peyton Cleveland, Digital University project manager told FedScoop.

The Navy has also been trying to get its online Navy Community College off the ground, which will initially focus on IT skills.

“I need common data standards,” Fred Drummond, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training, said. He said that the DOD needs a common database, with the same information across the board for registering educational progress.

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Air Force, Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Navy, digital education, workforce
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