Army School of Logistic Operations - Better Utilising Technology for Career Development and BeyondBy Nitin Biswas October 26, 2020
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything here at Army School of Logistic Operations (ASLO) it is that we needed to drastically update the way we conduct and deliver the RAEME SUBJ 2 CPL course.
The re-imagined course has come a long way from having students drive vehicles through the state forest with instructors verbally initiating quick decision exercises (QDE’s). The RAEME cell has spent a lot of time interacting with Applied Virtual Simulation (AVS) and the Protected Mobility Tactical Trainer (PMTT) located in Puckapunyal to create environments which immerse students into more realistic scenarios. By additionally utilising the functionality within ADELE-U, we are now able to deliver the first week of the curriculum online. Whilst the use of ADELE is not a new concept it is important not to just mass transfer the information in the same old powerpoint lesson format. As a result, we achieved this by creating interactive H5P lessons and content aimed at keeping students engaged with learning (learner centric design).
After achieving a package that was able to be delivered remotely, with the potential of the commanding a forward repair team (FRT) component being exported, it allowed us to delve deeper into what we can create on Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3). After spending time on the PMTT, we were able to record multiple QDE scenarios with drills being performed correctly and incorrectly, with resulting events for each path. This footage was then edited, with a potential for voice overs, to create scenarios that essentially allowed students to choose what path they would take during an FRT mission. The QDE that occurs is unknown to the student and they must choose the appropriate path to be able to proceed with the mission. Poor command choices result in a short video that shows what could be the worst case with an explanation why, the scenario then resets and allows the student to make different choices. By recording and splicing footage together, with decision points, we have been able to create a “choose your own adventure” style learning activity. This is training that usually takes place on course in the PMTT to provide students more realistic QDE encounters with contacts, IEDs, breakdowns, hostile air, protestors and a variety of situations.
The video below shows a quick example of what students will be exposed to. Interactive scenarios like this can be used during the learning process before consolidating in a PMTT. These scenarios can be further enhanced by adding time pressures. It is important to remember that this learning activity is not designed to replace training in the PMTT or real life, but to aid in student learning.
The footage can also be pieced together and played from a top down view to allow students to visualise road moves, movements through towns and other critical points. A voice over then provides feedback on good and bad points as well as considerations a commander must take into account. This method is currently being used to create a fly-through of a basic CSST position, to allow junior officers to visualise just how large a CSST and the ORBATS are on their basic and intermediate courses.
Whilst the PMTT and the after action review (AAR) function within it was being used prior to the COVID-19 world, the pandemic has highlighted that we do not harness learning technology to its full potential. Utilising simulation widely, by creating interactive videos and fly overs explaining layouts is just scratching the surface of what can be achieved. With more PMTTs, hopefully becoming available across Australia, we are working on creating exportable packages of scenarios that can be delivered to units to run FRT commander training for their soldiers. With time, better accessibility to VBS3 and equipment we will be able to begin creating more complex scenarios which means more QDE’s for better exposure than just driving through a state forest with no actual stimulus for decision making. These scenarios would also have the potential of being used in pre-deployment training, incorporating QDEs for situations that troops are likely to encounter in the region they will be entering.
The RAEME Cell has also been exploring other programs available to us to design more professional and user friendly courses. This has included SCORM package generators such as Adobe Captivate, Articulate Rise 360 as well is H5P content inbuilt to ADELE. A lot of what we have learned and created is self-taught through prior knowledge and trial and error. The first product created required some polishing as expected, but as we continue to learn new things and discover better ways to deliver learning using technology the refining of product will progress. The knowledge and ability to create this content is very much falling into a full time job, not something that can be double hatted. As this technology becomes more widely used the quality and content must be monitored by the subject matter experts within Schools/Training Centres which create it. Additionally, the procurement process for obtaining computers capable of comfortably running programs like VBS3 will need to be simplified. One possibility being to raise a dedicated simulation cell here within ASLO for logistics specific development, allowing Army to tap into existing potential of members in each corps to combine simulation and job specific subject matter expert knowledge.