I’m attending the training and simulation conference, hosted by the Atlantic Aerospace & Defence Industry Alliance in Halifax this week and spent the day getting caught up on what is happening in the Canadian Armed Forces, an organization I left in 1998.
I learned about the current Army training review that is fundamentally changing the existing training system. The military seems to understand the changing times and its challenges. What is interesting is that “learner centric” is a new priority for the Army. What we call mobile & local is what the Army calls “location independent”.
It was noted that legacy software systems will continue to be a barrier to adopting new technologies. This is the same as the other industries I have worked with. There is no money to replace existing expensive existing systems that still work. Even more interesting was an example of open learning resources. The US Army Ranger school has made all of its courses available online with open access for all. This facilitates the distribution of learning resources to all potential students, when and where they need them. The Canadian Armed Forces cannot (or will not) do this. This is a major barrier to access.
There was also a point about using subject matter experts as instructors. I was told that military personnel can get burnt out when employed as instructors at training units. It was questioned by the military if it was worth it to use SME’s in this role, due to the high demands of continuous teaching. Training seems to be a tough business in the military.
The major themes included the need to get agile in personnel development and training, as well as a strong requirement to address the increasing complexity faced by the military. There seems to be a significant impetus to integrate individual with collective training. Currently the two are separate. Military training needs simpler systems, we were told. It was suggested that mass customization for training was becoming an imperative. This means addressing the needs of individual soldiers, sailors and airmen, all within operational constraints. It was obvious that the existing Cold War structures [my time in the military] need to change, especially the Canadian Forces Individual Training and Education System. From the way I see it, the challenge is shifting to a Probe-Sense-Respond perspective on change.
One more thing, I did note that the military still love their massive bulleted lists on Powerpoint slides. Some thing do not change.