Microcredentials for Increased Learning Agility in Accelerated WarfareBy Malcolm Woodside October 19, 2020
The speed and complexity of warfare is ever increasing. It will be increasingly impossible to train and educate Army leaders for every possible duty assignment or skill required to dominate the modern battlefield. With limited training and education time, self-directed learning will continue to grow in importance among Army leaders.
Dr Franklin C Annis (2018)[i]
Imagine that Army (Defence) requires rapid recruitment of 50 new medics (or aircraft technicians, or intelligence analysis, or almost any trade, for that matter), and imagine that all it takes is a simple interrogation of PMKeyS/Defence One to find all members who have performed well in self-directed online PME study of medic theory courses (or aircraft technician or intelligence analysts courses). Army (Defence) can quickly identify members (who have completed personal interest online training in their own time) who are pre-qualified and available for rapid secondment to short notice operations.
Army can increase the agility, simplicity and capacity of its Future Ready Training System[ii], and prepare its people for Accelerated Warfare through developing their intellectual edge[iii] using microcredentials. Defence’s extant wealth of education and training (learning) can be restructured to be delivered as microcredentials. The term microcredential describes discrete learning which takes a degree of time and effort to complete, and results in certification or credentialing of mastery or competency for the content learned[iv]. Imagine the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Units of Competency (UOC) as an analogy for microcredentials. Access to online learning is provided by the delivery platform known as ADELE (the Australian Defence Education and Learning Environment). All Defence members can have access to much of extant Defence learning through ADELE in an Open University type approach.
The way contemporary learners think and frame problems has changed from those of pre-twenty-first century. Contemporary learners are sometimes called digital natives. The term digital natives is addressed further in Woodside[v]. Changes in the learner seem to correlate with changes in the workplace. The World Economic Forum compares skills demands in 2018 and what is expected in 2022[vi]; in summary, contemporary learners assign a lower priority to those skills where technology can be relied upon for task completion (eg map reading is replaced by GPS use). Incorporating technology is increasingly important for contemporary learners.
Reviewing learning content and outcomes (in order to present them online as microcredentials) should address all three of Bloom’s Learning Domains of affective, behavioural and cognitive[vii]. Outcomes should include recognisable attribute-sets described under the headings of behaviours, attitudes, skills and knowledge (BASK)[viii]. In Bloom’s Learning Domains, the affective domain encompasses the necessary attitudes, the cognitive domain involves the knowledge and skills required, and the behaviour domain includes the actual performance/practice/demonstration[ix].
The civilian AQF clearly addresses skills, knowledge and behaviour in the UOC[x]; however, there is no provision to clearly measure the affective domain (attitudes). Ethical behaviour originates in the affective domain[xi]. How a learner frames a problem (IOT reach a solution) resides in the affective domain. Defence’s values-based culture rightly insists inculcation of ethical behaviour at every opportunity. Therefore, revision of learning delivery should retain/include a measure for the relevant attitudes. The purpose of PME is to develop members for effective decision making in problems that do not yet exist. Microcredentials will become central to Professional Military Education (PME).
The key benefit of modifying the extant learning framework, in order to facilitate microcredentialing, is that they can form the core of any number of as-yet-undefined qualifications, for as-yet-undefined roles, in as-yet-undefined conflicts. Facilitating microcredentialing can increase the agility, simplicity and capacity of Army’s (Defences) Future Ready Training System[xii], and prepare our people for accelerated warfare.
[i] Annis FC 2018, Self-development requires self-direction: Recommendations to improve the Army leader development model, Small Wars Journal, viewed 08 June 2020 at https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/self-development-requires-self-direction-recommendations-improve-army-leader-development
[ii] Forces Command, Army 2020, Future Ready Training System Transformation Program Strategy, viewed 06 June 2020 at https://cove.army.gov.au/sites/default/files/future_ready_training_system_strategy.pdf
[iii] Pearse MR 2020, Developing the Military Professional in an era of Accelerated Warfare: The Forces Command PME Plan 2020-2025, FORCOMD Directive 17/20, viewed 06 June 2020 at https://cove.army.gov.au/sites/default/files/developing_the_military_professional_in_an_era_of_accelerated_warfare_-_the_forces_command_pme_plan_2020-2025_0.pdf
[iv] Bartz DE and Krotsonis WA 2019, National Implications: Effective Approaches to Learning for Organization Members, International Journal of Management, Business, and Administration, 22, 1, 2019, 6, viewed 31 May 2020 at http://www.nationalforum.com/Electronic%20Journal%20Volumes/Bartz,%20David%20E.%20Effective%20Approaches%20to%20Learning%20for%20Organization%20Members%20IJMBA%20V22%20N1%202019.pdf
[v] Woodside M 2019, Blended Learning, Digital Natives and the Effective Application of Learning Technologies in Army, The Cove, 30 Aug 19, viewed 07 June 2020 at https://cove.army.gov.au/article/blended-learning-digital-natives-and-the-effective-application-learning-technologies-army
[vi] World Economic Forum 2018, Insight Report: The Future of Jobs Report 2018, Centre for the New Economy and Society, Table 4: Comparing skills demand, viewed 31 May 2020 at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2018.pdf
[vii] Buchanan H, Siegfried N and Jelsma J 2015, Survey Instruments for Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Behaviour Related to Evidence-based Practice in Occupational Therapy: A Systematic Review, Occupational Therapy International, 23 (2016) 59–90, viewed 01 June 2020 at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/oti.1398
[viii] Schrader P, Lawless G, and Kimberly A 2004, The Knowledge, Attitudes, & Behaviors Approach: How to evaluate performance and learning in complex environments, Performance Improvement; Oct 2004; 43, 9; 8-15, viewed 22 August 2020 at https://search.proquest.com/docview/237244341/fulltextPDF/AFEBFCCADB9C40B3PQ/1?accountid=10479
[ix] Buchanan H, Siegfried N and Jelsma J 2015, Survey Instruments for Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Behaviour Related to Evidence-based Practice in Occupational Therapy: A Systematic Review, Occupational Therapy International, 23 (2016) 59–90, viewed 01 June 2020 at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/oti.1398
[x] National Skills Standards Council 2012, NSSC - Standards for Training Packages, viewed 07 June 2020 at https://docs.employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/standardsfortrainingpackages.pdf
[xi] Anderson T and Dron J 2012, Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy, Revista Mexicana de Bachillerato a Distancia, viewed 07 June 2020 at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ992485.pdf
[xii] Forces Command, Army 2020, Future Ready Training System Transformation Program Strategy, viewed 06 June 2020 at https://cove.army.gov.au/sites/default/files/future_ready_training_system_strategy.pdf