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ADL Initiative R&D Projects

The ADL Initiative bridges across Defense and other Federal agencies to encourage collaboration, facilitate interoperability, and promote best practices for using distributed learning. The overarching purpose of the ADL Initiative projects is to collectively provide the highest-quality education, training, informal learning, and just-in-time support; tailored to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime, anywhere, to increase readiness, save resources, and facilitate interorganizational collaboration.

FY23 Investment Portfolio

Much of this work the ADL Initiative is undertaking focuses on developing the technical and organizational infrastructure for a learning ecosystem to modernize career-long education and training. Projects currently being undertaken as part of the ADL Initiative R&D portfolio, as depicted in the figure below, are aligned to the Enterprise Digital Learning Modernization (EDLM) reform effort.

Under the EDLM reform, The ADL Initiative is conducting research to enable a defense-wide learning ecosystem that modernizes career-long education and training. It uses digital learning technologies, driven by data, to provide more effective, equitable, and modern learning opportunities across the Total Force. This cross-cutting initiative supports priorities for (a) upskilling and supporting the federal workforce, (b) enterprise shared services for information technology, and (c) data-centric digital modernization.

EDLM includes two major lines of effort:

  1. Acquisition: Improve the practical efficiency of DoD’s training and education system via policies, processes, and shared services that simplify acquisition, reduce duplication, and ensure consistency with DoD policies for learning modernization.

  2. Modernization: Design, develop, and deploy the data management infrastructure required to collect, share, and interpret learner data from DoD’s diverse learning technologies (e.g., e-learning, microlearning, virtual reality, electronic gradebooks, registrar systems, simulations) to deliver a career-long learning continuum that functions at scale.

The ADL Initiative, in collaboration with DoD stakeholders, is establishing a DoD Learning Enclave (DLE) as part of the EDLM effort. The DLE is the cloud-based hub that provides the shared software services required to implement a given instantiation of the Total Learning Architecture (TLA), a framework that define a uniform approach for integrating current and emerging learning technologies into a learning services ecosystem. The DLE includes the data management infrastructure and microservices to share and interpret learner data that are collected from connected systems. In other words, the DLE hosts the centralized software services that make an enterprise-level TLA-based learning ecosystem function in practice.

EDLM’s data management infrastructure, shown in blue in the above diagram, is comprised of six applications.

  1. EDLM Portal: The EDLM portal provides a common access point for all EDLM systems. This centralized login connects users to the Enterprise Course Catalog (ECC), the Enterprise Learner Record Repository, the Enterprise Competency and Credential Registry, the Linked Data and Schema Server, and the Learning Technology Warehouse (LTW).

  2. Enterprise Course Catalog: The ADL Initiative is building an ECC to enable a defense-wide inventory of all DoD training and education resources. The ECC is not simply another course catalog. Instead, it enables a global search capability that identifies information from decentralized local catalogs across the DoD and aggregates the content into a single, defense-wide portal.

  3. Enterprise Learning Record Repository: A federated ELRR provides the ability to look across many distributed learner records as if they were from a single source and enables the sharing of local and global learner data across the DoD.

  4. Enterprise Competency Registry: The open source Competency and Skills System (CaSS) is being deployed as a competency management resource for the DoD. It enables the design, development, and linkages between sharable competency definitions, frameworks, and credentials.

  5. Enterprise Linked Data & Schema Server: A defense-wide capability to generate linked data vocabularies with unique identifiers and schema mapping services to provide immutable Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRIs) for each term and schema that all DoD technologies can reference.

  6. Learning Technology Warehouse: A clearinghouse of tools, technologies, and applications that enable the future DoD Learning Ecosystem. The LTW product catalog is comprised of software-centric tools and technologies that are hardened and approved for use inside the DLE.

The orange-toned boxes at the bottom of the figure represent self-contained instances (“tenancies”) of different learning technology configurations that are end-user facing. Each orange box represents ownership by a different organization, and each organization can have different software configurations so long as they are created from the conformant components that are approved and available from the LTW.

  1. TLA Core Services: The TLA Core Services container includes a centralized data management capability that collects, processes, and stores learner data from connected, TLA-conformant systems. Automated microservices send data to and from connected systems (e.g., Moodle, PERvasive Learning Systems, Personal eBook for Learning).

  2. Moodle: Moodle is an open-source, online learning management system that enables DoD organizations to create, deliver, and manage courses that support a variety of training and education organizations within the DoD. The Big Blue Button virtual classroom is integrated into Moodle to allow virtual, instructor led training in an xAPI-enabled environment.

  3. Cmi5 Player: The cmi5 Player is a web service application that provides functionality for importing cmi5 course packages, launching assignable units (AU), and proxying xAPI requests to an external learner record store (LRS). The cmi5 Player will be deployed as a plugin to Moodle.

  4. Learner Record Store: The LRS is responsible for receiving, storing, and providing access to learner records. A noisy LRS collects raw learner records from a connected activity. The transactional LRS collects a rollup of learner performance using the TLA Master Object model. The authoritative LRS stores validated competency assertions that support credentialing.

  5. TLA Core Services Portal: provides the front end to TLA / EDLM Data Services such as a local course catalog, local competency registry, and local learner profiles.

Total Learning Architecture: Interoperability

The key to managing lifelong learning within the TLA is afforded through interoperable technical standards, linked vocabularies, and a federated catalog that provides pointers to authoritative sources of learner data.

The TLA data strategy is built around commercial standards that organize the learning-related data required to support lifelong learning and enable defense-wide interoperability across DoD organizations, products, and data. The following ADL Initiative projects have spearheaded the development of distributed learning specifications and standards, and usage of the data according to these specifications: