One major benefit of a Defense-wide learning ecosystem is the availability and accessibility of instructional resources from across the agency. However, with hundreds of DoD organizations currently using a wide variety of methods to describe and publish these resources, there are now thousands of proprietary and disconnected catalog capabilities across the enterprise, many of them hard to find or even know they exist.
Existing course catalogs are not designed to easily transfer data about learning activities between the different DoD systems. Catalogs integrated into proprietary platforms use pre-determined, point-to-point connections to transfer data between systems, requiring lengthy integration efforts for each connected system. Many systems cannot accommodate new and emerging types of learning activities – such as e-books, mobile device learning augmented reality, or simulations – and they fail to provide insight into the learning activities that comprise each course. Current course catalogs also use sparse, non-standard metadata to describe their courses, which limits the ability to share resources across DoD components, and identify course duplication.
The Enterprise Course Catalog (ECC) enables a global search capability that pulls information from decentralized local catalogs across the DoD and aggregates the content into a single, Defense-wide portal. Existing course catalog systems and their respective contents will still be owned and managed by their current system owners, but the content (data) within those systems will be discoverable across all of DoD via the ECC portal.
About the Project
The ECC uses a metadata curation service to automatically generate metadata from different pools of information stored within the catalog owner’s local network. For example, DAU requires students to complete a course survey at the end of each course. These data are stored in DAU’s data warehouse and might be used to drive a course’s aggregate rating, which is a common feature found in most commercial course catalogs.
The automated metadata service provided by ECC facilitates the alignment of metadata across organizations and helps maintain up-to-date information in the ECC. The metadata can also be used to align learning activities (e.g., courses, instructional materials) with standardized data on careers, competencies, and credentials. This kind of data alignment is a key element of DoD’s Enterprise Digital Learning Modernization (EDLM) data strategy.
The ECC includes several subsystems that enable the discoverability and accessibility of all DoD instructional activities. The ADL Initiative is focused on building, integrating, testing, and deploying the services and systems required to enable this ECC vision.
In July 2018, the DoD Chief Management Officer (CMO) and the Reform Management Group formally initiated the EDLM reform initiative. The goal of the EDLM effort is to build an enterprise-wide integrated digital learning ecosystem that enables efficient acquisition and spending management for DoD education and training products and services. The ECC is one of the three EDLM lines of effort.
In July 2020, the ADL Initiative developed an ECC Pre-Alpha Prototype to validate the architectural approach for course catalog federation and to collect data about existing course catalog structures. Courses from Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Defense Acquisition University (DAU), and Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) were integrated into a common catalog portal powered by an open-source search and analytics engine (ElasticSearch) and visualization platform (Kibana).
In September 2020, the ADL Initiative kicked off the development of an operational Minimum Viable Product (MVP) ECC capability. The MVP will be scalable to support the global search and discovery of available courses within the ≈300 schoolhouses distributed across the DoD.
Benefits of the ECC will include a broader, faster, and simplified capability to identify and access digital learning resources and opportunities across the DoD, and cost savings and cost avoidance through reduced duplication of courses and content.
DoD Reform Effort Puts Digital Learning Systems at the Forefront
September 25, 2020