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Total Learning Architecture Development: A Design-Based Research Approach

2017; IITSEC; Gallagher, P.S.; Folsom-Kovarik, J.T.; Schatz, S.; Barr, A.; Turkaly, S.

Organizations that use learning technology to educate and train are facing a new set of interoperability problems. Many new products - including adaptive systems, intelligent digital tutors, real-time data analytics, and interactive e-books - offer dramatic learning benefits. However, these products primarily “stand alone” and work outside of typical browser-based delivery environments controlled by traditional learning management systems. Furthermore, the effectiveness of these “intelligent systems” often depends on their access to data generated by and stored in other systems. The U.S. DoD ADL Initiative is designing a framework of specifications, called the Total Learning Architecture (TLA), to ultimately enable “plug-and-play” interoperability of learning technologies. That is, the TLA will allow these new products to interoperate with each other, with other existing learning systems, and even human capital management technologies. Because of the rapid rate of innovation in such distributed technologies, we adopted a multiyear design-based research approach. During the project’s first year, an initial set of specifications have been developed and evaluated for technical and functional adequacy using a multi-round Delphi approach with a panel of international participants (n = 54). Also, in partnership with the U.S. Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School’s Special Warfare Education Group, we conducted a live prototype test and demonstration with Special Operations Soldiers (n = 73). This yielded data on the nascent system’s functionality, performance, user experience, and learning potential. Analysis of these data will lead to recommendations, which will inform the second cycle of TLA development process. This paper summarizes the TLA concept, development process, first-year analysis efforts and outcomes, and lessons learned leading to design improvements for the second year of TLA development.