Powered by MOMENTUM MEDIA
defence connect logo

Website Notifications

Get notifications in real-time for staying up to date with content that matters to you.

Improving military learning through the application of adaptive learning technologies

Opinion: For governments, investment in people is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage and protecting people, assets and nations. The challenge is educating and training a vast and diverse workforce operating across various territories and countries while balancing finite training resources and budgets, writes BMTs Andrew Chambers and Thomas Blackledge.

Opinion: For governments, investment in people is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage and protecting people, assets and nations. The challenge is educating and training a vast and diverse workforce operating across various territories and countries while balancing finite training resources and budgets, writes BMTs Andrew Chambers and Thomas Blackledge.

A uniformed and “one-size-fits-all” approach to educating this diverse population may not be the most efficient or effective way. This challenge becomes even more complex when considering the addition of the civilian workforce who directly support global military operations must also be developed and invested in. Cost, resource and logistical challenges soon become insurmountable. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Now, emerging technologies, shifts in policy and societal changes to how work and learning can be conducted present an opportunity for forces to leverage the benefits gained from the use of adaptive learning technologies (ALTs) in training procedures. 

Implementing adaptive learning technologies

Adaptive learning is a personalised learning technique that can provide effective, efficient and customised learning. It pre-dates digital technologies, with approaches such as one-to-one tutoring, ability grouping, and diagnostic assessments providing examples of ways to differentiate the learning experience for individuals

Adaptive learning can be scaled across individual lessons and topics, courses or even across entire curriculums to support a range of learning needs. Environments that use adaptive learning capture far more data on learners than a human teacher can, and automation of this data and analysis allows for a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s learning, which allows for more accurate personalisation. 

If human tutors were to provide personalisation to multiple learners, it could become very labour-intensive and hard to maintain, which is a common challenge for large organisations. With the advent of e-learning and advanced data analytics, personalisation on a large scale becomes feasible through the use of ALTs. By using digital data collection and AI to automatically adapt resources and activities to the needs of the learner, an individualised learning experience can be facilitated. 

PROMOTED CONTENT

The use of ALTs to support learning in this way is growing widely across many sectors, and these tools can make learning more engaging while improving knowledge retention and making the whole process far more efficient. There is a healthy interest from defence leaders to incorporate such emerging technologies, but research and case studies for their use in organisations are limited, so understandably, buy-in from the forces will require extra steps. 

Challenges and resistance

Despite the perceived benefits, the evidence base for its use in military organisations is not yet robust enough, and so scepticism remains, as well as a cultural reluctance to embrace technology in place of traditional instructional methodologies. Governments tend to prefer human-led face-to-face learning for several reasons. Historically, this has been a more feasible option, and for service personnel, knowledge is typically shared through mass audience lectures. The social aspect of meeting in person is important too, and while they want to welcome technological advancements, there is a fear of losing that togetherness. 

Such organisations are cautious to relinquish control of delivery from human instructors who can maintain the homogenous delivery to personnel and ensure everyone receives the same learning, and instead put learning in the hands of autonomous systems that they might not yet have seen in action. 

Another challenge that isn’t just limited to defence organisations is the significant upfront investment needed to implement new technology. It is difficult to create a range of learning content that caters to varying individuals’ preferences and capabilities, and also keep it up to date and in line with education policies and best practices. Modernising courses requires significant planning, monitoring and assessment and will take time and budget for the organisation to maintain. 

Proving effectiveness and the future of ALT 

To prove the value of ALT, a greater data pool across specific industries is needed to demonstrate its return on investment fully. Providers need to show the benefits to reassure organisations and prove to teachers that AI will not replace their jobs but instead support them and enrich the work they do. For activities like marking that can take hours each day, AI can take this off their hands and free them up to do more critical tasks. 

While it may be too early to introduce ALTs across whole defence organisations, and it may take a longer time to convince every party involved, there is scope to introduce pilot programs. Ideally, ALT can be introduced via courses that already provide learning through online platforms or additionally via courses that are not deemed to be safety-critical for the organisation. 

Supported by a digital strategy and consultancy behind the scenes, defence leaders will have the necessary support and advice on what ALTs to implement and will be guided as the technology is installed. When done correctly, ALTs can allow military organisations to streamline a fundamental part of their learning and development processes. 

It will allow them to keep up with the technological trajectory and ensure that they do not fall behind the rest of the world that is quickly finding new and innovative ways to digitalise. In the future, we will see the relationship between ALTs and traditional learning methods strike a comfortable balance and see an increased receptiveness to emerging learning techniques so organisations can modernise and provide much needed educational enrichment at scale. 

Andrew Chambers is a senior training consultant and Thomas Blackledge is a graduate consultant at BMT.

Improving military learning through the application of adaptive learning technologies
employee-management-dc.jpg
lawyersweekly logo

more from defence connect

Aug 18 2022
USAF B-2 bombers depart northern Australia
The US Air Force B-2 bombers have finally left Base Amberley after a month of training with RAAF F-35s. ...
Aug 18 2022
Raytheon Australia, UniSA partner to deliver veterans’ scholarship
Raytheon Australia has partnered with the University of South Australia for the second consecutive year to support the Veterans’...
Aug 18 2022
PODCAST: Walking the Western Front, with Dr Will Davies
In this episode of the Defence Connect Podcast, author and historian Dr Will Davies joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss battlefiel...