Here’s how these experts seek to transform the way soldiers learn
A small, focused group of experts are trying to find ways to tailor, accelerate, and tailor soldiers’ learning for decades to come – and part of that work is to end the dreaded DBPP Syndrome, too. known as “Death By PowerPoint”.
Military officials, academic researchers and industry experts gathered last week for the Army Training and Doctrine Command’s “Mad Scientist Initiative”. The initiative looked at disruptive technologies, combat in mega-cities, smart installations and human-robot coupling, part of this work contributing to new approaches in how the military prepares soldiers for scenarios future.
This most recent event was about learning. While not the deadliest subject, experts quickly demonstrated how the soldier of the future will need to learn a great deal of information at the right time and in the right way for it to be useful.
Lee Grubbs, director of the initiative, told Army Times that key aspects of the future operating environment will likely see more connected soldiers in a faster threat environment.
Because of this, information is going to be exponentially higher and flow faster to soldiers and commanders.
This led participants to ask the question “what must we do to prepare this soldier for the battlefield of 2050?” Said Grubbs.
Today’s soldiers are generally educated in the same way that officers and leaders were educated decades ago. But the young person who is born in 2032 and becomes military in 2050 will need to be educated differently.
Software company Cerego, which has partnered with the military on various pilot programs, is already helping the service move in this direction.
What the company does is take the content from the class – think PowerPoint slides, text, video, and other information – and put it in a mobile form for use on a smartphone. Then their analysis uses algorithms and methods to first test the user’s initial knowledge of the subject, and then find their strengths and weaknesses.
The program then acts as an individual tutor, tailoring learning to areas in which the user most needs to practice, while verifying their retention of information over short, medium and long periods.
This is a key factor in a major Army initiative: Tactical Combat Casualty Care for All Combatants.
The TCCC program aims to ensure that all soldiers receive medical training, including basic rescue techniques and the use of tourniquets and hemostatic dressings, and how to perform basic airway maneuvers.
But while a soldier can learn the basic skills right away, if he doesn’t practice or regularly update his skills, how does a commander know if that soldier is ready for those tasks six months longer. late when the time comes?
The Cerego pilot program took the classroom instruction portion of TCCC training and put it on the smartphone. The move cut training time by more than half – what normally takes 12 hours took 5.3 hours.
On top of that, Andrew Smith Lewis, CEO and Founder of Cerego, said the software presents information and then continually quizzes and evaluates the user to gain deeper insight into the most effective way to learn for the user.
In another pilot project, Cerego extracted similar materials from the Soldier’s Green Book, focusing on skills essential to combat and save lives. They taught Cerego-based apprenticeship to soldiers from two rifle companies of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Soldiers who used the software for an average of one minute per day saw their scores increase by 13%. Those who worked an average of 3.5 minutes per day saw their scores increase by 26%.
But life-saving skills and TCCC require more than memorizing procedural steps. These skills are specifically types of practical tasks.
Smith Lewis said the next step in Cerego’s development could include adding data from sources such as the mannequins used by medics and soldiers to practice some of these medical skills. This data, said Smith Lewis, could be used to identify techniques the soldier has problems with and better focus training time on those tasks, while also determining when the soldier should be retraining those skills at various intervals.
Todd South has written on crime, courts, government and the military for several publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-authored project on witness intimidation. Todd is a veteran of the Iraq War Marines.