FORT EUSTIS, Va. — Army seniors gathered at Fort Eustis, Va., June 5-6 for the Basic Officer Leaders Course Conference hosted by Training and Doctrine Command’s Initial Military Training to exchange information and discuss how the Army Learning Model can assist with the ongoing development of instruction programs.
The U.S. Army Learning Concept for 2015, also known as Pamphlet 525-8-2, identifies the Army Learning Model being spearheaded by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
“Learning in the Army has to be inspiring, “said Michael Haith, with TRADOC’s human dimension integration program. “It has to make you want to be who you are and give that spark to learn and execute or perform the things that we need to do as leaders. Frankly, that’s what leaders are; they’re teachers. At the bottom of it all, they’re teachers and mentors.”
ALM is a new concept that describes the Army’s shift in training from platform centric and place-dependant to an adaptable mode of learning available to all Soldiers. The model places emphasis on learning strategies centered on digital technology and face-to-face interaction.
“The key to the ALM is to teach instructors how to facilitate the curriculum by engaging and interacting with the students,” said Rick Swain, dean of academics for U.S. Army Cadet Command. Swain is responsible for educating instructors who teach Soldiers. “It’s about taking the curriculum and making it interesting to the students so that it will resonate.”
ALM is being implemented in three phases. Currently in phase one, the model captures innovations developed throughout TRADOC and Army schools to spread best practices to streamline implementation. The second phase, known as the bridging strategy, is where pilot programs and prototype capabilities will be used to test ALM concepts. During the third and final phase, all of the Army centers of excellence and schools will use updated learning models to incorporate technological advances. ALM will be fully operational at the beginning of fiscal year 2015.
Lt. Col. Thomas Duncan, Advanced Individual Training, or AIT, and Chemical basic officer leader course commander for TRADOC’s Chemical School has translated the concept of ALM into practical implementation.
“What we’re trying to do is have more learner-centric instructions, for example, breaking classes down into smaller groups, more hands-on training and more practical exercises. In AIT, we have added more situational training exercises to reduce the amount of time students are sitting in the classroom.”
Duncan said the relevance of ALM is pertinent to today’s Soldiers because the number of teacher Soldiers will increase with less time for training. These teachers need to be able to maximize the effectiveness of training by creating an adaptable learning environment.
“What we have to do is make teaching an important initiative in the Army,” Haith said. “Make it an assignment that Soldiers, leaders — NCOs want to do.”
ALM incorporates the programs and individual specialties for all of the Army’s career fields and revolves around the concept that students learn and hold information better when they’re inspired by the content and topics.
“The Army Learning Model will not succeed unless we can make learning inspirational,” Haith emphasized. “Consequently, learning in itself, such as the topic or content, cannot be separated from the individual who delivers it, so it’s what you teach and who teaches it.”
As a result, the model requires commanders in each cohort, or career specialty, to review the proposed concepts and provide feedback based off their individual learning requirements and decide whether or not the techniques are applicable to the curriculum.
According to Haith, commanders are a part of the strategic operational level because they represent their organizations in the Army Learning Coordination Council to develop the Strategic General Learning Outcomes that drive training under the ALM.
There are five implementation panels being used for ALM strategies. One of those is the Staff and Faculty Development panel, which works closely with the Resourcing Training & Education panel. Together, they develop new Descriptions of Work for instructors and training developers to support. Represented individuals are looking at how they attract, hire and cultivate training developers. They also look at how to retrain these developers, and how to expand them over a lifetime.