Canadian Armed Forces medic at laptop in back of an LAV

Credit: DND photo IS2011-1036-02 by Sergeant Matthew McGregor

Canadian Armed Forces medic at laptop in back of an LAV

Individual Training and Education (IT&E) Modernization for the Canadian Armed Forces

by Debbie Miller

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“Learning without Borders”

Seems too good to be true? Let me provide you with an over brief on the Individual Training & Education Modernization initiative, as well as what is presently being facilitated by the Canadian Defence Academy (CDA).

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is known for the individual and collective high-level performance of its personnel. It does not mean that the IT&E system is perfect. In the current IT&E system, nine strategic gaps were identified, which served to motivate the creation of the IT&E Modernization Strategy. This Strategy guided the Training Authorities/ Designated Training Authorities (TA/DTA) partnership in the development of CAF Campus, which is described in the CAF Campus Operational Framework. It should be noted that on 19 June 2013, IT&E Modernization was endorsed by Armed Forces Council (AFC).

So what is included in this initiative? In other words, what can it do for you? It will allow you to enter a portal that will provide boundless access to a myriad of applications, anywhere and anytime. This approach will break down the ‘stovepipe’ construct of the present IT&E system, thereby fully leveraging all IT&E initiatives and investments and ensuring that the organization, processes, doctrine, and policy evolve in concert with the learning methodologies and tools employed in CAF Campus. CAF Campus will provide effective management of IT&E while preserving the TA/DTA structure. It will leverage the authorities of the Professional Development Council (PDC) members and participants to oversee the transformation of the CAF learning culture. Acting as an integrator, it will supervise a transition in capabilities and approach that will achieve the required synergy, cooperation, and strategic governance.

Military soldier guarding world

Credit: istock photo 12093695

Military soldier guarding world

There will be a significant transformation of the CAF learning culture that will be motivated by the implementation of this modern learning architecture. CAF Campus will affect traditional training approaches and embrace the nature of a true modern learning organization. The opportunity to achieve these strategic advantages cannot be disrupted. As such, the transformation will be supported by an overarching management plan and well-tailored communications to prevent institutional inertia from causing a retreat to traditional approaches.

CAF Campus modernizes IT&E in three domains: Governance; Training Authority and Designated Training Authority Capabilities; and Common Capabilities. Although critical to overall efficiency, it is not the common capabilities that will represent IT&E Modernization to the IT&E community. Front and center in this new approach will be the reconfiguration of the following organizations to meet their unique requirements:

  • Learning Support Centres (LSC) — will provide integrated learning development functions, and IT&E specialist consultancy services that will be essential to the TAs/DTAs, FCoEs and TEs when conducting needs assessment, analysis, design, evaluation, validation, intelligent contracting and rationalization of IT&E;
  • Functional Centres of Excellence (FCoE) — will lead, coordinate and maintain the intellectual foundation and authoritative body of knowledge within their assigned area of expertise in support of IT&E;
  • Training Establishments (TE) — will provide cadres of instructors, standards staff and IT&E managers engaged in learning delivery regardless of physical location or delivery environment; and
  • Learning Sites (LS) — temporary or permanent locations providing physical and/or virtual learning environments shared by multiple FCoEs and TEs.

As for the Common Capabilities, they will be provided by CDA to avoid redundancy and to enable ready access to essential capabilities, including point of need IT&E, as well as pan-CAF collaboration to support all IT&E phases with access to a greater spectrum of best practices and talent than any TA/DTA could achieve on its own. These capabilities will be grouped into three categories: Strategies and Programs (Prior Learning Assessment Review, Rationalized Training Delivery, and so on), Support and Services (Research and Development, Instructor Development Program, and so on), and CAF Campus Enterprise Engine (CAFCEE). CAFCEE will be the technical backbone to CAF Campus, providing access to the tools that support CAF Campus, and, in particular, enabling a collaborative learning environment and ubiquitous and asynchronous access to IT&E. The CAFCEE was not conceived as a ‘stand-alone’ system.

A holograph is projected above a mobile phone by a 3D projector

Credit: Reuters photo RTR2EMDQ by Pichi Chuang

A holograph is projected above a mobile phone by a 3D projector

The LSC network will be equipped to provide a common baseline of integrated learning development services, consultancy services, and support services. The LSCs will provide the main development capabilities and IT&E specialist consultancy services, centralized contracting, and the rationalization of IT&E. Each LSC will participate in a virtual development network that will enable sharing of expert advice and best practices. In some cases, individual LSCs will be equipped with specialty capabilities that will serve the entire LSC network. All LSCs will be reinforced with development tools and other support services from the CAF Campus Common Capabilities. The main development capability for the Designated Training Authorities (DTAs) will be provided by the CAF LSC. In addition to the LSCs, some development and common service will also be accessed at satellite LSCs that are linked to an LSC and the entire development network. The LSCs will be virtual, physical, or some combination thereof, and will provide support to one another. They may be a section within a headquarters, or a stand-alone unit with the necessary establishment, authority and funding to meet their mandate. The specific design of each LSC depends upon the intended scope of activity, and it is determined by a combination of factors, including the TA’s development and common services requirements and the specialized capabilities that specified TAs will provide to the entire development network. For example, the production of holographic maps or images is an expensive capability that would be established at a single LSC to support all TA/DTA requirements. While the LSCs operate under the ownership of each TA, the establishment and evolution of the LSC network consistent with a CAF-wide standard level of capability is a CDA HQ responsibility on behalf of Professional Development Council.

Man pointing behind holographic map of world

Credit: istock photo 22708283

Man pointing behind holographic map of world

It is envisioned that improved resource management, in concert with the reduction in formal training, reduces infrastructure, and operational equipment requirements, will yield savings. At present, the IT&E system consumes $1.6B annually; a 1 percent efficiency improvement would produce $16M in annual savings, and a 10 percent improvement would produce $160M in annual savings. CAF Campus is committed to using the approach of continuous improvement and rationalization of learning content and organization, including the supporting doctrine, policies, and procedures.

The following four projects were selected to support the Initial Operational Capability (IOC):

  • Learning Support Centres — will provide the main learning content development capability and IT&E specialist consultancy services;
  • CAF Campus Enterprise Engine — will include the operating platform, related capabilities and key tools, A digital learning management system with 24/7 access to learning, with a learning content repository;
  • Performance Management Framework — will provide metrics to guide strategic and operational decisions regarding the ongoing evolution of CAF Campus, and will provide Program Alignment Architecture (PAA) inputs; and
  • Common Capabilities — will include the enterprise tools and capabilities that enable the efficient application of modern instructional techniques.

This CAF-wide learning initiate serves as a national reference for all learning projects and related research agendas within the CAF/DND, and allows the IT&E community to promote, share, or request projects. Through pan-CAF collaboration, CAF Campus will provide access to a greater diversity of experience and talent than any TA/DTA could ever provide on its own. The CAF Campus environment is modern and adaptable, where multi-use mobile learning devices access wireless internet-based learning networks. In fact, technology plays a secondary role in support of the CAF Campus, which will adapt by responding in concert with other elements of the CAF to changes in operational and institutional requirements, changes in operational tempo and the discovery of more effective and efficient learning methodologies. The Campus framework will allow the synchronization of HR and IT&E, supporting ‘just-in-time’ training and career-long individual development. The CAFCEE supports not just access to learning content but also access to support resources and collaboration via online learning communities where learners, instructors and developers can share, build and tailor learning content and supporting applications.

In the end, the CAF Campus positions the CAF to maintain its operational edge in the face of resource constraints and an increasingly complex and challenging security environment. It is a strategically driven, pan-CAF synchronized performance oriented learning architecture that supports the transformation of the CAF learning culture for the 21st Century.

To the day-to-day user the fundamental facilities of the LSC coupled with the functionality of the Enterprise Engine are of most interest, as they are readily available aspects that anyone can use, anywhere, at anytime, basically point of need for the user.

Every CAF member will be a user, and will have access to the tools (virtual resource centre, learning plan, 3D models, R&D reports, synthetic environments, serious games, micro-blogging, and so on), and resources appropriate to their particular status as a learner, instructor, content developer, instructional designer, or training manager/administrator when and where they are needed.

IT&E Modernization will meet operational requirements by creating a modern, agile, integrated learning environment with global access that empowers Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

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Lieutenant-Colonel D.L. Miller, OMM, CD, is the Senior Staff Officer Strategic Planning at the Canadian Defence Academy in Kingston. She holds a Master of Arts in History and a Master of Defence Studies from the Canadian Forces College.

Senior NCM on laptop in the field

Credit: DND photo IS2010-4003-024 by Corporal Pierre Thériault

Senior NCM on laptop in the field