Showing posts with label military education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military education. Show all posts

Monday, April 20, 2015

E-Learning and the New World of Warfare

The world of warfare is changing and is more technology driven than at any point in history. The pitched battles between two large armies in standard WWI and WWII trench style combat no longer exist in the same form. Today’s military will either take the form of highly professional, technology-driven, adaptable units or low technology, low professional, socially networked adaptable units. Professional units are incorporating more e-learning to ensure their soldiers are up to speed with modern technology and knowledge requirements. 

A paper in the eLearning & Software for Education Journal describes the modern battlefield and the need for additional e-learning (Eparu, & Atanasiu, 2014). The battlefield of 2015-2025 will be tridimensional, transparent, technology driven, dynamic pulsing, multi-directional, cybernetic, digitized, integrated, and multinational.  Technology to handle change, communication, and run robotics will put pressure on traditional militaries to change. 

This means that higher skill levels are needed among current military members. They will integrate their actions more with digital technology and robotic systems working seamlessly on the field. The days of digging trenches and following simple commands are slowly disappearing to more adaptable systems where soldiers can work collaboratively and independently to achieve objectives. 

To work independently requires the ability to learn at new levels and continue to incorporate new knowledge for self-improvement that impacts the entire unit. This is expensive for militaries that seek to run the process over and over on new recruits in an effort to make them ready for battle. E-learning affords the opportunity to keep those costs affordable and keep soldiers learning from any place in the world. 

The process may include basic training, occupational schooling, and weapons training but will also require higher forms of knowledge-based learning. E-learning affords the opportunity to remotely train using forums, support networks, simulation games, decision making software, and much more. Our next generation of soldiers will rely heavily on e-learning after their initial training has been successfully integrated. 

Eparu, D. & Atanasiu, M. (2014). New training requirements for a successful military action. eLearning & Software for Education, 3.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

How Management Knowledge Improves Military Adaptability

Military training is focused on learning specific skills to create a well-oiled machine designed to be stable under organizational pressure. A paper by Petrufova (2014) discusses many of the strengths and weaknesses of modern military education. In particular, the paper elaborates on how technical ability is strong but broader management knowledge is lacking for adapting to change. 

Adaptable military styles require a broader framework for understanding crisis situations and countering long-term threats. The military relies heavily on technical training to teach soldiers how to complete their day-to-day job functions. Awareness of how their function contributes to the whole and can be adjusted when situations change is lacking.

Management skills are needed for officers that control a number of functions simultaneously that require more complex interaction. The process of promotion from within helps to maintain morale and retain knowledge but doesn’t often afford the opportunity to gain new knowledge. Training becomes a central avenue of gaining new knowledge. 

Military educators can implement additional management knowledge and skills by helping students understand cultural and economic aspects of management. The military has strong values that offer stability but may be lacking knowledge of cultural and economic principles. 

Successful adaptation requires the ability to change when it is necessary. Specific knowledge works well for maximum productivity but general knowledge is better for understanding the overall function of each piece and how to change it. Management teaches the ability to adjust operations to changes in the market which is not something most militaries commonly deal with. 

The military can learn from the world of business to integrate the best management practices into their leadership style. Providing knowledge of management skills and functions helps officers have a better grasp of their whole operation and provide a framework for adjustment when situations change. Knowledge learned in business schools can be adapted to improve military operations.

Petrufova, M. (2014). Problems of manager competencies and teaching management in the military. Rista Academiei Fortelor Terestre, 19 (2).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Changing of Military Honor through Societal Eras

The concept of the warrior and officer has changed over the centuries based upon the needs of their time. Honor has been a consistent theme throughout this transformation even though its application has changed with the times. Colonel Peter Mansoor who served in Iraq discusses how values have shifted overtime and creates new ways of understanding honor, courage, and duty. His work helps shed light on how different eras have brought forth new definitions. 

Ancient Codes: A defining concept of military codes of honor goes all the way back to the ancient Spartans. Their code entailed honorable conduct revolving around the ability to face death with composure and contempt. It was a way of frustrating the inevitability of death through skill and ability. 

Chivalric Code: The medieval era brought a new conception of honor that included a social instrument wrapping the warrior’s creed into a Chivalric code. Warriors believed in courage, courtly love, fairness in deciding justice, and true to one’s words and deeds. 

Gentlemanly Officers: The societal shift from a feudal system to the republic brought the gentlemanly officer who had lineage in European feudal systems. They acted with utmost social grace and protected their honor at all costs. Problems were solved through duels between two men. For example, Alexander Hamilton was killed by sitting U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr over a defamation of character issue.

West Point: The system of warrior codes took a distinctly American flavor with the maturity of the country. Honor in word and deed was important. It includes concepts of not lying, cheating, stealing and not accepting those who do. “The Captain is to be true to his country, make service his business, true honor his object."

The author argues that the Warrior and their Codes reflect the values of society. He includes a speech by the Commander and Chief at West Point that states, "We need your Honor — that inner compass that guides you, not when the path is easy and obvious, but when it's hard and uncertain; that tells you the difference between that which is right and that which is wrong." Honor has shifted toward the idea of an inner compass that allows one to draw from their own strengths and value systems even when there is no social kudos for one’s actions.

The paper does not discuss beyond the recent West Point speech what honor means in an emerging era of value globalization, robotic warfare, highly trained military specialists, cyber warriors, and shifting societal values. That conception of the warrior code has not yet been clarified but is being pushed forward with the idea of “inner compass” where multiple choices in any situation are judged by the fundamental characters of the people making them. Perhaps it is the honor of choosing something greater than ourselves even when there are no obvious options; a definition of integrity as a concept of wholeness when others are divided.

Mansoor, P. (2014). The evolution of military ethos over the ages. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 94 (2).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Adapting Military Education to a Social-Cognitive View

Military education is adapting to technological changes at a rapid pace. Technological advancements in the military have always been part of the process of defending core American values. The use of online education is growing for traditional schools and military training. A study by Anthony Artino discusses the social-cognitive view of motivation and self-regulation in understanding students’ satisfaction and learning outcomes in the Navy (2007).  The design of courses and student understandings determine their overall success in learning new skills that can be adapted to military needs.

The Department of Defense spends more than $17 billion on military education and has converted the majority of its educational capacity to computer supported distance learning programs (United States General Accounting Office, 2003). Traditional schools are also adjusting their educational processes to something more virtual. According to a survey of 1,000 colleges by the Sloan Consortium (2005) they found that 63% of colleges that offered face-to-face undergraduate courses also offered online courses and 56% believed that online education was strategically important.

 Students come with all types of impressions of online education that range from the valuable to the mundane tasks of training. Some of these students have little to no academic background and find themselves behind the curve in updating their knowledge. Other students view themselves from their family background and personal experiences that impact their ability to succeed in online education. 

Students who feel that their education is important are more likely to have higher outcomes than those who don’t (Pintrich, 1999). They are willing to put in more time and be more motivated about their work. Student success was based in their self-efficacy (Lynch and Dembo, 2004). Self-efficacy being the belief the student can actually accomplish what they set out to accomplish based upon their skills and abilities.

Successful online students came with more technological abilities than other students (Kearsley, 2000). They are strong users of cell phones, laptops, tablets and other modern communication tools. Such skills can be adapted to the modern use of technology that is part of weaponry and military communication. Students are capable of mastering introduced technology faster.

204 Navy personnel engage in the study with 74% male and 26% female. The study confirmed other literature findings that motivation and prior experience predicted outcome. Those that believed in the benefit of education and found courses interesting did better than those who didn’t. In congruence with social-cognitive models it is important for students to believe they can do well, be motivated, but also understand the importance of the training. Online educator can consider the need to put education within a proper and broader context of benefit.

Artino, A. (2007). Online military training: using a social cognitive view of motivation and self-regulation to understand students’ satisfaction, perceived learning and choice. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 8 (3).

Kearsley, G. (2000). Online education: Learning and teaching in cyberspace. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Lynch, R., & Dembo, M. (2004). The relationship between self-regulation and online learning in a blended learning context. [Electronic version]. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 5(2).

Pintrich, P. R. (1999). The role of motivation in promoting and sustaining self-regulated learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 31, 459-470.

The Sloan Consortium. (2005, November). Growing by degrees: Online education in the United States, 2005. Retrieved from

United States General Accounting Office. (2003). Military transformation: Progress and challenges for DOD’s advanced distributed learning programs (GAO Publication No. 03-393). Washington, DC: Author.