Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 41

NCO 2020 (digital) tutors, or even personal response systems (clickers). Additionally, to effectuate its learning concept, the Army will require a cultural shift that moves it away from heavy emphasis on the use of traditional classrooms.11 Within a new learning framework, a truly adaptive model ideally would provide personalized content, learning paths based on pre-assessment, and resources suitable for the individual student.12 The main goals associated with adaptive systems are to maximize learner satisfaction, learning speed (efficiency), and educational effectiveness.13 In the very near future, intelligent tutoring systems and adaptive content presentation platforms will allow training institutions to tailor course content based on the use of pretests or personal assessments. It is possible that future NCOES courses might be able to leverage these kinds of educational technologies. This matters because soldiers are more likely to be engaged and focused on learning when they are not bored by the learning design, when they see the training as relevant to their job duties, and when the course content is at the appropriate level of challenge. Moreover, soldiers typically are not interested in repeating coursework on skills or concepts they have already mastered or used on the job before attending a course. In addition, instructional design should avoid pitfalls such as the expertise reversal effect (an avoidable cognitive overload), which can occur when instructional content is not geared to the level of the learner.14 For example, a soldier attending the Advanced Leader Course within NCOES may already possess more operational experience or more of certain technical skills than a peer enrolled in the same course. Retraining that soldier on skills already mastered or used extensively in operations is not the best way to train or extend knowledge within NCOES and may interfere with additional learning. A pre-assessment of prior learning could support tiered instruction or allow for individually tailored content that either extends current knowledge or supports application of previously learned concepts within the framework of live or virtual scenario-based assessments. Combining Self-Paced Instruction and Adaptive Learning in NCOES As as an instructional framework, SPL could be introduced into NCO PME using a purposive model of instruction that would allow learners to enter the MILITARY REVIEW  September-October 2014 course with tailored content and instructional activities based on pre-assessment of skills or knowledge. Pretests and assessments should measure soldiers’ understanding of technical or operational concepts within their career field, or of general military topics. Data taken from pre-assessments could be used in different ways to adjust the course content. One approach might be to use mean scores from stratified samples of soldiers across military components or career management fields to shape overall decisions on curriculum and the sequencing of topics taught to all soldiers attending a given course. Another way that pretest assessment results could be used is by having a cut-off score on the test that would serve as a screening mechanism or entry ticket to attend an NCOES PME course that focuses on applying skills. A more routine use of pre-assessment information is to identify gaps in learner understanding at the outset of training, as well as to gather evidence of learners’ readiness, interests, or learning profiles.15 Once enrolled in a course, learners would access materials on a secure learning management system (LMS) that would also track student progress. Many colleges and universities today are using such transformative approaches to enrich student learning experiences. Students attending a course would be issued a tablet or laptop to access and review course content in the form of apps, lectures, self-assessments, wikis, podcasts, videos, and other streaming content. By using a flipped classroom approach, the NCOES course should allow for SPL time during which learners review class lectures and other lesson materials.16 Within a technology-enhanced adaptive LMS, desirable features include instructor dashboards, learning object repositories, and the system’s ability to intelligently