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ADL Initiative Represents at I/ITSEC 2019

January 06, 2020

The ADL Initiative supported the Interservice / Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) on 1-5 December in Orlando. This annual event attracted over 17,000 professionals, including military and industry leaders, domestic and international partners, support staff, and other stakeholders. This year’s theme, “Winning the War of Cognition by Pushing Readiness and Lethality Boundaries,” fit well with the ADL Initiative’s focus on enabling better use of training and education data to improve military readiness.

This year’s ADL Initiative presence at I/ITSEC included an annual meeting of its Global Partnership Network, multiple technical paper and panel sessions, an international partnership signing ceremony, an exhibit booth, participation at senior-level DoD presentations, and dozens of stakeholder meetings and discussions. The event’s highlights are shared below.

Global Partnership Network

The ADL Initiative kicked off the conference on Sunday by hosting its annual ADL Global Partnership Network directors meeting at I/ITSEC. The Network includes US Government agencies, international military entities, and US-based academic institutions. Each signed an agreement to collaborate on advanced distributed learning topics. Over 43 military and civilian participants took part in the annual exchange, from the US Government, NATO Allied Command Transformation, Canada, Denmark, Georgia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, the Latin American Institute of Educational Communication, Arizona State University, and the University of Memphis.

The full-day meeting included discussions on each member’s approaches to implementing advanced distributed learning, including efforts to develop an interoperable “future learning ecosystem” capability. ADL Initiative international partners were given the opportunity to discuss their experiences in a series of structured presentations, including a panel featuring two General Officers from Ukraine and Georgia and a Flag Officer from DNK. The Generals and Flag Officer shared their perspectives on military training upgrades and interoperability.

Participants at the Global Partnership Network meeting

Participants at the Global Partnership Network meeting.

Toward the end of the meeting, the US ADL Initiative team shared information on the ongoing Total Learning Architecture (TLA) projects and provided access to resources such as the Experience Application Programming Interface (xAPI) specification, Modernizing Learning book infographics, and other downloadable reports.

On Monday, the Partnership Network directors also witnessed Mr. Fred Drummond, DoD Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training, and Rear Admiral Henrik Ryberg, Commandant of the Royal Danish Defence College, sign an Intent to Cooperate, formally welcoming Denmark as the newest member to the Global Partnership Network.

Mr. Drummond (left) and Admiral Ryberg (right) bring Denmark into the ADL Global Partnership

Mr. Drummond (left) and Admiral Ryberg (right) bring Denmark into the ADL Global Partnership.

TLA Working Group

Global Partnership members and others at I/ITSEC who wished to learn more about the TLA attended a TLA Working Group meeting where early adopters and potential adopters shared knowledge and lessons learned. Participants discussed multiple use cases, and subcommittees brainstormed on ways to leverage learner records, competencies, metadata and DoD governance.

ADL Initiative’s Brent Smith (SETA contractor) presents at the TLA Working Group meeting

ADL Initiative’s Brent Smith (SETA contractor) presents at the TLA Working Group meeting.

Technical Papers

Three ADL Initiative technical papers were presented at I/ITSEC. The first, With Uncertainty Comes Opportunity: Solving the DoD’s Flash Problem, focused on the challenges faced by organizations that rely on thousands of hours of Flash-reliant e-learning content, as the once-popular Flash Player is phased out of service in 2020.

ADL Initiative’s Trey Hayden and Yihua Liu (both SETA contractors) present their paper on Flash deprecation

ADL Initiative’s Trey Hayden and Yihua Liu (both SETA contractors) present their paper on Flash deprecation.

The second paper, Twenty-Five Emerging Trends in Learning and their Implications for Military Partners: An International Study, ranked trends in learning design, learning delivery, enabling and managing learning, and learning at scale. This paper was authored by representatives from the “Five Eyes” nations (defense representatives from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and the United States). Military leaders’ perceptions on the learning trends were compared across the five countries.

The third paper, Cybersecurity Strategies for Accrediting Experience Application Programming Interface (xAPI), focused on approaches to ensure the safe and secure use of xAPI across both closed and open (or federated) learning technology enclaves. Authors Mike Hernandez, Mickey Neeley, and Andy Johnson explained how cybersecurity standards must evolve over time and stressed the importance of setting standards to allow interoperability.

Panel Sessions

ADL Initiative Director, Dr. Sae Schatz, supported two well-attended panel sessions. The first, Imagine 2030, considered how Artificial Intelligence (AI) empowered systems would affect the future of learning and development. This panel included an actual AI panelist, “Charlie,” who captivated the audience with real-time insights and responses.

The second panel, Modernizing Learning, featured contributors to the ADL Initiative’s book, Modernizing Learning: Building the Future Learning Ecosystem. In this standing-room only event, the panelists presented different elements of the ecosystem, debating the relative importance of technology, learning science, human infrastructure, policy, commitment, and governance. Dr. Schatz challenged the panelists to outline actionable plans for achieving the vision of the future learning ecosystem. Copies of the book are available through the Government Publishing Office or directly from the ADL Initiative’s website.

Panelists at the Moderating Learning panel session (Phill Miller, Christopher Dede, Sae Schatz, Michelle Barrett, A. Reese Madsen, and Robert Sheets)

Panelists at the Moderating Learning panel session (L to R – Phill Miller, Christopher Dede, Sae Schatz, Michelle Barrett, A. Reese Madsen, and Robert Sheets).

Accomplishing Goals

Through paper and panel sessions and a daily presence on the exhibit floor, the ADL Initiative’s engineers and scientists gathered information on current, real-world distributed learning initiatives relevant to the ongoing design of the future learning ecosystem. This information will be shared among the various ADL Initiative R&D Working Groups to help guide the design of the TLA in support of DoD readiness goals. In meetings with policymakers and other stakeholders, the ADL Initiative team was able to share the results of their ongoing work, offer ADL Initiative solutions to training and education challenges, and invite those stakeholders to participate on R&D Working Groups that are relevant to their interests. The ADL Initiative exhibit also served as a hub for meeting with stakeholders to answer questions about the TLA.

Overall, this year’s I/ITSEC conference was a success for growing ADL Initiative collaboration and research efforts. The ADL Initiative will continue these efforts and promote additional collaboration at upcoming events such as iFEST (17-19 August in Alexandria, VA), the NORDEFCO ADL Conference (4-7 May in Halmstad, Sweden), and I/ITSEC 2020 (30 November - 4 December in Orlando, FL).


Over the past 30 years Central Florida has become a worldwide center for Modeling, Simulation and Training (MS&T) in support of military readiness. Today, thousands of workers from industry, government, and academia support the region’s MS&T enterprise. This hotbed of innovation is the ideal location for I/ITSEC and has supported the conference for over five decades.

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