A US DoD S&T research thrust gaining speed is the US Army DEVCOM Soldier Center’s Enhancing the Total Learning Architecture for Experiential Learning project. We viewed a Central Florida Tech Grove-coordinated webinar on the topic. The event was hosted by the National Training & Simulation Association.
The webinar was a follow-on to the 2022 I/ITSEC paper submitted by the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) Experiential Learning-Readiness (STEEL-R) team consisting of: Robby Robson, PhD, Tim Welch and Fritz Ray - Eduworks; Benjamin Goldberg, PhD, US Army DEVCOM Soldier Center; Shelly Blake-Plock, Yet Analytics; Kevin Owens, Applied Research Laboratories, University of Texas (Austin); and Mike Hernandez, Helicon Chemical Company.
The evolving project should be of interest to a wide array of development teams, as it seeks to provide a data strategy for measuring the longitudinal impact of synthetic, semi-synthetic and live training activities on individual and team competency development – for starters. Accordingly, the project envisions integrating Big Data, XR and other enabling technologies to help advance military individual and team/unit readiness and, as significant, strengthen learning throughout a service member’s career.
Supporting STE Modernization
STE remains US Army’s construct for converging the Live, Virtual and Constructive domains. Key STE attributes and underpinnings in development include gaining one software, one terrain, one training tool and multiple interfaces – all to be employed at the point of training need and at the appropriate echelon. The webinar topic is aligned quite well with other STE S&T lines of effort, four of which are:
- automated team assessment;
- automated feedback and AAR for teams;
- intelligent, adaptive learning for teams; and
- team competency modeling and tracking.
DEVCOM Soldier Center’s Goldberg, noted that, in one instance, his team is applying an iterative, learning engineering approach to the STE’s lines of effort by way of its Learning Engineering Model. The Army research scientist added the project’s lower-level lines of effort since the I/ITSEC paper’s presentation are ambitious, “and are also seeking to take advantage of what we are seeing in the gaming industry as across the extended reality space, and just harnessing those types of capabilities to provide the most meaningful types of solutions to the training audience.”
The STEEL-R team’s pedagogical framework used to advance its activities is experiential learning. Eduworks’ Robson explained this learning model “is guided, it’s a framework in which there is focus on repetitive practice – a key – under real-world and often under simulated real-world circumstances. As is the case with STE and other elsewhere, this is often implemented with games, simulations, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and live exercises as well.”
Goldberg offered that another key foundation for his team’s research is competency – which increases with training and practice, much like the military’s venerable “crawl, walk, run” approach and continuum to skill acquisition. One key takeaway, and, indeed, an important underpinning for STEEL-R, is the team continues to look beyond a point in time – towards a longitudinal view of how, in this instance, soldiers’ competencies evolve over time. Indeed, this strengthens the overarching Total Learning Architecture (TLA) – whose end state envisions personalized data-driven learning across the US DoD and well beyond – into the wider public and private sectors.
And data, again. As MS&T and its companion editorial outlet CAT report, military and aviation training enterprises have an insatiable demand for data. In this instance, STEEL-R implements a data strategy, and in turn, enhances the TLA.
DEVCOM’s expected returns on investment include influencing the Pentagon’s wider acquisition process, in this instance, to help advance training and education. In one of many possible use cases, standardized data formats may be used to help align requirements, testing and specifications to learning engineering principles.
Tech Grove Webinar Link
Diverse defense stakeholders, from those advancing similar learning projects to business development teams, would benefit from gaining additional details on the STEEL-R team’s projects. One valuable resource is the webinar itself – able to be viewed in entirety at