May 9, 2011
NDU iCollege Educates Leaders Across Borders using Distributed Learning Techniques and Technologies
Teaching and learning know no boundaries. This is one of the mottos of the National Defense University (NDU iCollege) faculty and staff of 85 subject matter experts whose expertise in Information Technology leadership, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) skill sets, Cyber Security, Cyber Leadership and more is sought after by mid-to-senior level military, government, international, and industry leaders. Recently, a class of 18 students from the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) located at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., participated in a week-long CFO class. Dr. Todd Holmes, Chair of the CFO Academy at the NDU iCollege, facilitated the class from Florida; while several professors conducted class sessions remotely using Distributed Learning (DL) techniques and the Defense Connect Online technology (DCO) from the telepresence room at the NDU iCollege campus. The DCO technology is used worldwide by the Department of Defense (DoD) for collaboration and web conferencing capabilities.
Students in Florida interacted with the professors back in Washington, D.C., by streaming video. To accomplish this, the professors used several computers at both locations; two in the remote classroom and two in the NDU iCollege’s telepresense room. Dr. Holmes navigated to the DCO DoD website, found the pre-ordered class link, and connected the class to the instructors in Washington, D.C. Once activated, students and remote faculty interacted with one another via the video stream, voice, and by typing chat questions in real time. The professors used additional software aids such as PowerPoint presentations for lesson purposes, and the students broke into teams to engage in learning exercises, compiling their answers and analysis on Blackboard (an education, collaboration technology, used by educational institutions.)
“We teach DL classes and use the DCO technology quite often,” stated Department Chair Andy Gravatt, head of the college’s Systems and Technology Department. “To teach a class like this, we used to take professors and materials on the road. This would tie up our time and cost money to send several faculty members to off-campus locations. Now we incorporate DL and use technology. These factors do not compromise our ability to deliver first class education -- in fact, DL and the use of technology has really changed the way we teach.”
Although the cost savings is a by-product, Dr. Holmes highlights the enriched classroom experience this approach provides. “One of the beneficial aspects of our courses is the rich, team-teaching approach. For example, each of our core CFO courses has a team of at least four professors, and one course has a team of nine professors. When we are asked to teach courses away from the college, the entire subject matter expert team cannot travel; however, students still benefit from our team-teaching approach because the college has invested in and implemented a communications model using modern technology,” said Dr. Holmes.
“The college has been steadily moving toward using more and different technologies in the classrooms. Particularly concerning DCO is that it’s valuable as a free service provided to the NDU iCollege from the DoD,” said Professor Gary Maupin, who also taught remotely. “Sometimes we have bandwidth issues and connectivity is challenging, but with a little perseverance we have held classes in Germany, Sweden and throughout the United States.”
As more cutting edge technologies become available, classes at the NDU iCollege will be offered by various DL methods (expanding on the current use of Blackboard) and will use a wide host of technologies, such as virtual worlds. The college currently has an “island” in Second Life and uses it for meetings and events. The NDU iCollege’s vision is to become the Global Hub for Educating, Informing and Connecting Information Age Leaders. The way ahead is to embrace all that technology offers. As highlighted in the end-of-course surveys, students generally like distance modes of delivering lessons. One student wrote, “Excellent way to present lectures to students who can’t come to campus. Way to go instructors!” Another student plans to move to Germany soon and expressed interest in joining future DL courses to continue their education.
About the College - The NDU iCollege, a U.S. Department of Defense educational institution, prepares leaders to direct the information component of national power by leveraging information and information technology for strategic advantage. Although most students come from DoD (military and civilians), the school also accepts federal agency, private sector, and international students into its graduate programs. Education is focused around CIO, CFO, Information Assurance/Cyber, Enterprise Architecture, IT Project Management, and other information leadership competencies. The NDU iCollege is also currently working with the U.S. Department of Education to obtain approval for its new Government Information Leader Master of Science Degree. Courses are completed on campus and/or online. For more information about the NDU iCollege’s programs, please contact: Jolly Sienda at firstname.lastname@example.org ; or for general information about the college, visit www.ndu.edu/icollege.
The National Defense University is the nation’s premier center for joint professional military education. The university is an accredited graduate-level institution that provides an educational and research environment to prepare future leaders of the armed forces and other civilian agencies for high-level policy, command, and staff responsibilities. For more information about the National Defense University, please contact: Dave Thomas, Public Affairs Officer, at 202-685-3140 or ThomasD2@ndu.edu; or visit www.ndu.edu.
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