Since its inception, the ADL Initiative has emphasized collaboration. The two primary program offices–-in Alexandria, Virginia and Orlando, Florida—were originally named “Collaboration Laboratories” (or Co-Labs, for short) to emphasize this cooperation. They were explicitly designed as cooperative environments. These program offices continue to serve as collaboration grounds for the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative.
The ADL Initiative was established to guide, expand, and explore how Federal training programs, initiatives, and policies can better support flexible, lifelong learning using technology. While Defense personnel remain the core constituents of the ADL Initiative, policy documents published in the late 1990’s directed the ADL Initiative to serve the entire Federal workforce as well as international partners, industry, and academia.
The ADL Initiative actively participates with formal global defense bodies in topics related to training, education, and associated distributed learning capabilities. DoD Directive 1322.18 (“Military Training”) reissues reference and updates policies and responsibilities for training of military individuals, units, and staffs, DoD civilian employees and, when authorized, contractors, allies, and other US Government or non-Government agency personnel. DoD Instruction 1322.26 (“Distributed Learning”) is derived from this directive. Advanced distributed learning saves time and money for the DoD (and Federal government) by creating and implementing technology interoperability specifications and stewarding associated policy, by identifying and eliminating inter-Service and interagency duplications of effort, and by matching stakeholders with needs to those with solutions.
The original 1999 ADL Strategic Plan highlighted the relevance of advanced distributed learning for international militaries, recommending export of distributed learning technologies and course content to grow partner capacity and potentially serve as a revenue stream. It noted that advanced distributed learning “…represents a unique opportunity to supplement Military Assistance and multinational initiatives, including the Partnership for Peace, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Technical Cooperation Program, and others…” (p. 18). The US ADL Initiative leads the ADL Global Partnership Network, which is comprised of several participants, including numerous international defense organizations, the US Office of Personnel Management, and several US-based universities. Participating military/government organizations (including NATO) each operate a dedicated Advanced Distributed Learning Partnership Center, overseen by a local Director.
The ADL Initiative’s Partnership Laboratories support the network through research, while the military-based Partnership Centers focus more on operational course development and delivery. The ADL Initiative belongs to, or otherwise actively participates with various professional societies and related standards/specifications organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Learning Technology Standards Committee, IMS Global Learning Consortium, and the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission Information Technology for Learning, Education and Training committee.