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Enterprise Digital Learning Modernization (EDLM)

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Accelerating the adoption of new technologies to establish an interoperable DoD-wide digital learning ecosystem.

The Challenge

Most current DoD learning systems are stovepiped and rely on legacy digital learning technologies (e.g., monolithic, proprietary learning management systems (LMSs)) that suffer from vendor-lock, are often difficult to upgrade, fail to collect extensive data, and lack interoperability. There are also hundreds of duplicative systems and courseware across the DoD. Overall, this leads to inefficient and less effective digital learning, and inhibits the progress toward strategic goals for workforce modernization.

The Solution

The EDLM reform effort aims to modernize DoD’s digital learning systems by implementing federated digital architectures that use enterprise-wide data-driven methods, while concurrently improving acquisition and maintenance processes for digital learning products and services. Implementation of the EDLM focuses on two lines of effort:

1. Learning Technology Acquisition: creating a system to simplify procurements, reduce duplication, and ensure consistency with DoD guidance and policies for learning modernization. This line of effort focuses on developing an acquisition pipeline for digital learning products and services. It includes designated experts for assisted-acquisition and commodity shared services (e.g., app hosting) to streamline acquisition processes and get better buying power at scale.

2. Learning Systems Modernization: fostering interoperability and enabling new data-driven capabilities, while aligning and federating learning-related data from different DoD services and agencies to enable a DoD-wide digital learning ecosystem.​ This line of effort focuses on a data strategy for DoD education and training systems, and coordination with voluntary consensus standards organizations to formalize the associated data standards. Building upon these data standards, a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) architecture is being undertaken to allow education and training technologies to “plug and play” together, like LEGO® bricks.

About the Project

The EDLM reform implements DoD and Federal guidance, including DoD’s Digital Modernization Strategy, DoD’s Data Strategy, and the Office of Management and Budget’s Category Management directive. DoD’s Reform Management Group approved EDLM on 25 July 2018. In April 2019, the DoD Chief Management Officer (CMO) issued a memo directing participation of all DoD Components. A year later, in April 2020, the CMO reinforced the April 2019 guidance with added clarity for assisted acquisition processes.

In 2020, an EDLM Executive Steering Committee was established, and it currently includes representatives from the following organizations: Defense Support Services Center, Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training, the Under Secretary of Defense (Intel and Security) Human Capital Management Office, Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Services, Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and Department of the Air Force.

Also in 2020, the ADL Initiative spearheaded two projects, an Enterprise Course Catalog and an Enterprise Learner Record Repository, in support of the EDLM Learning Systems Modernization line of effort. These systems aggregate learning activity data and personnel performance data, respectively. Stakeholders from all major DoD Components are participating in the EDLM development process. Early adopters include Defense Acquisition University and Air Education and Training Command, which are supporting prototype testing.

EDLM DoD Learning Enclave

The ADL Initiative, in collaboration with DoD stakeholders, is establishing a DoD Learning Enclave as part of the EDLM effort. The DoD Learning Enclave is a cloud-based set of enterprise digital learning systems, conformant learning activities, and a data management infrastructure designed to maximize interoperability. It is expected to reduce the total cost of ownership by providing shared service offerings that run in a validated DevSecOps pipeline.

The DoD Learning Enclave Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is currently being established through the Air Force’s Platform One program. To expedite its deployment and operational testing, the ADL Initiative is working through the Platform One Party Bus DevSecOps pipeline, a pre-packaged software development service accredited to support a continuous Authority to Operate (cATO) for Air Force Impact Levels (ILs) 2, 4, and 5. This pipeline enables the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) of enterprise systems to accelerate the development of software and tools with an eye toward security.

Ongoing work on the DoD Learning Enclave IOC includes the integration of twelve capabilities:

  1. Enterprise Learning Portal

  2. Enterprise Course Catalog

  3. Enterprise Learner Record Repository

  4. Competency and Skill System

  5. Schema Server for Linked Data

  6. Learning Technology Warehouse

  7. Total Learning Architecture Backend Services (e.g., Kafka)

  8. cmi5 Player (as an added capability to LMS)

  9. Learning Management System (Moodle)

  10. PERvasive Learning Systems

  11. Learning Record Store (Learning Locker)

  12. Personalized eBooks for Learning (PeBL)

The figure above shows a high-level architecture for the DoD Learning Enclave IOC. The numbers on the graphic correspond to the numbers in the capabilities listed above. The blue-toned boxes at the top of the graphic represent shared, enterprise capabilities. The orange-toned boxes at the bottom of the figure reflect instances of different customer owned enclaves.

Through Platform One, the DoD Learning Enclave is obtaining the proper security authorizations. As part of this process, all systems will obtain a Certificate to Field (CtF), which will result in a cATO to deploy the software and conduct operational testing. The Platform One Party Bus DevSecOps pipeline requires strict adherence to the different components of the cATO. The CtF for the systems are valid for one year or until the software architecture is changed (i.e., major release).

Software applications housed in the DoD Learning Enclave must be developed using hardened and accredited software containers—a form of operating system virtualization. Containers house all the necessary executables, binary code, libraries, and configuration files to run the software. All DoD Learning Enclave IOC systems are comprised of mature, open-source software that use the latest versions of each software component stored in the Platform One Iron Bank container registry. Security is embedded into Kubernetes, an open-source container orchestration platform, and further secured with a sidecar security stack configuration that adheres to DoD’s Enterprise DevSecOps Reference Design. Static code testing and Dynamic Application Security Testing are performed continuously until each application meets the required capabilities. These testing measures are critical to ensure the software code for these systems are safe to deploy.


Project Details

Period of Performance

Project Launch: 2018


Air Education and Training Command
Army Training Support Center
Army University Directorate for Learning Systems
Defense Acquisition University
Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support
Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training
Intel Human Capital Management Office
Joint Staff J7/Joint Knowledge Online
National Cryptologic School
Naval Education and Training Command
Office of the Chief Information Officer
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Transforming DoD’s Learning Infrastructure
August 26, 2020
Learn More | Video