Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Augmenting Military Education by Hiring Online Educators

Online education is making its way throughout the higher education world. Particularly, the military has been adopting online education in their approach to training soldiers but they do not always understand how to teach such concepts as effectively as possible. The movement to online education does create new challenges for military education. There may be a case for hiring online professors into the military for developing "in-house" curriculum.

We should first understand that military education will never be 100% online because there is the need to train physically and in person to establish close social bonds among platoon mates. Likewise, there will be a need to train with specific types of equipment, weapons, and movements that rely on physical presence. Online education augments and enhances many of the traditional approaches.

It is possible to augment education, and a big part of this education, to further knowledge. For example, students that are working in part within logistics and supply can use online education to understand inventory, movement of goods, and simulated problems. A similar idea can be applied to other fields as well.

The same can be said for troop movement and coordination. While much of this is done online, at an officer level, it will be important to learn the background of why these movements are adopted. The same can be said for strategy and general management where theory and "hands on" experience are needed.

A study of Canada's Military indicates that online technologies are not being fully utilized because many of the instructors don't know how to teach online, are rooted in classical military traditions, and learning technologies may be adapting too quickly for the slower military system (Scoppio & Covell, 2016).

There is a need for skilled online practitioners within the ranks of the U.S. military. There are fundamental differences in learning styles between the ground based and online modalities. Hiring online instructors may be a worthwhile investment for the military as they develop the curriculum needed for the next century.

Military education could be enhanced if we integrate online and ground based "field" learning to solidify the concepts. They can work in parallel where those skilled in actual hands on experience train in real time while those who are more skilled in online education can enhance and deepen the soldiers knowledge base. The learning curriculum will need to be designed to develop and update military abilities in a well coordinated manner.

Scoppio, G. & Covell, L. (2016). Mapping Trends in Pedagogical Approaches and Learning Technologies: Perspectives from the Canadian, International, and Military Education Contexts. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 46 (2).

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