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Science of Learning (SOLAR) Closed

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Investigating best practices for the design, delivery, and management of distributed learning at large scales, including pedagogy, workforce, and governance.

The Challenge

The rapid pace of distributed learning technology development has resulted in a multitude of options for online and blended learning. However, simply using those new technologies will not necessarily ensure the training and education delivered are high quality. Rather, additional organizational and pedagogical (andragogical) components are also needed.

The Solution

The SOLAR project integrates best practices from industry and adult education into DoD distributed learning organizations. The project looks at learning science principles as well as larger organizational processes.

About the Project

SOLAR is identifying best practices for the design, delivery, and management of distributed learning through an evidence-based examination of distributed learning best practices and real-world organizations. To validate this guidance, the project will then apply these principles to an exemplar course within a DoD education/training context.

First Year Deliverables

State-of-the-Art Report: This report identifies evidence-based practices and examples, including specific guidance on metrics-based, state-of-the-art distributed/blended learning strategies and tactics. The report describes techniques that can support blended learning and online learning, including online learning at scale. It also includes appendices that provide a deeper dive into the best practices for institutional systems, courseware technology, and online pedagogy.

Exemplar Report: This report identifies and describes exemplar learning organizations that are delivering state-of-the-art adult distributed/blended learning. Although no organization is perfect, there are organizations that have been especially successful at implementing distributed learning.

DoD Recommendation Report: Using insights from the first two deliverables, this report provides specific, actionable recommendations for DoD for enhancing its distributed and blended learning, including the organizational systems, courseware, and associated learning strategies/tactics. The report also provides a recommended assessment process that includes an evaluation checklist and instructions for conducting a review using the checklist. The end goal is to provide the DoD a user-friendly technique that allows learning organizations within the military to quickly identify both their strengths and potential areas of improvement.

Second Year Deliverables

Starting in FY20, SOLAR will translate the best practices and use-case findings into specific recommendations for DoD distributed learning organizations. This includes transforming existing DoD training and education content into model distributed/blended forms.

Use-Case Report: This report will investigate three DoD training/education organizations to analyze current distributed/blended learning within the DoD based on a checklist of exemplar features found in the review of literature and current organizations in industry, education, and the military.

Learning Modules for an Exemplar Course: Learning modules will be designed based on the best practices identified in previous deliverables and will use specific media determined by the identified best practices. As technologically applicable, all the learning modules will use xAPI to track learner progress in accordance with DoD Instruction 1322.26 and the TLA xAPI Data Implementation Guide. Learning modules will be fully transferable and transitionable to the DoD for free and open reuse by DoD and other Federal agencies deemed appropriate by the U.S. Government.

Evaluation of Learning Modules: This deliverable will consist of designing and conducting an empirical study of an implementation of the exemplar learning modules with designated military personnel in situ. The report will provide a description of the experimental study process and discuss the results.


Immersive Learning Environments at Scale: Constraints and Opportunities
Siegle, R.; Roscoe, R.; Schroeder, N.; Craig, S.
2020, Arizona State University

Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics for Improving Online Learning Environments
Paredes, Y.; Siegle, R.; Hsiao, I.; Craig, S.
2020, Arizona State University

Science of Learning and Readiness (SoLaR) Recommendation Report: Science of Learning Practices for Distributed Online Environments
Craig, S.; Schroeder, N.
2020, Arizona State University

Science of Learning and Readiness (SoLaR) Exemplar Report: A Path Toward Learning at Scale
Craig, S.; Li, S.; Prewitt, D.; Morgan, L.; Schroeder, N.
2020, Arizona State University

Science of Learning and Readiness (SoLaR) State-of-the-Art Report
Craig, S.; Schroeder, N.; Roscoe, R.
2020, Arizona State University

Project Details

Period of Performance



Arizona State University


Defense Acquisition University
Naval Post Graduate School