With more than 7,500 Navy e-Learning (NeL) courses available, Sailors around the world — and around the clock — have come to depend on NeL to help advance their careers. Navy e-Learning
is one of the largest Web-based training systems today, operating ashore and on ships and submarines at sea. Ensuring its dependability 365/24/7 is no small technical feat. For example, imagine every time you turned on your TV, it had to call one server for video, another server for audio, yet another for text, and then finally one for animated content. Next, your TV would compile all this content, and then finally display it real-time so you could enjoy the presentation. Technically
speaking, that’s dynamic content delivery.
The Navy had originally invested in dynamic content delivery to reduce the cost to maintain and update electronic training content, as well as to enable content discovery and reuse. When NeL launched in 2001, and operated on a smaller scale, dynamic content was technically manageable
within a reasonable cost. However, as the NeL courseware library and number of users increased over the past 10 years, the supporting IT infrastructure also grew to ensure a quality experience
for the user.
In other words, the technical and funding aspects associated with sustaining dynamic delivery were outpacing the benefits of that approach. As a result, the Sea Warrior Program (PEOEIS PMW 240) and the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) undertook an effort to convert all electronic training course content and data that were "dynamically" delivered from the Learning Content Management System (LCMS) into the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) 2004 format for delivery by the Learning Management System (LMS). SCORM is a collection of technical standards that defines how units of online training material need to be created so the
content can “play” well in different Learning Management Systems and contexts.
"SCORM is mandated by Department of Defense Instruction 1322.26, and it’s the best approach for Web-based e-learning courseware interoperability," said Hank Reeves, Navy e-Learning project director. "In simple terms, SCORM is like the DVD standard for distributing digital films. A DVD-formatted movie plays on any video disc player, regardless of manufacturer. Having all e-learning content packaged in SCORM format reduces the cost of testing, hosting and managing content deployment," Reeves said.
"Our team converted or retired 1,209 training course programs. This represents nearly 20 percent of all courses within Navy e-Learning. A huge impact when you consider that last month we reached 3 million NeL course enrollments for this year," said Reeves.
The SCORM project was a large challenge for the NeL team and training content sponsors because the courses were originally developed using an LCMS software application that had some non-standard ways of authoring and delivering content. Although this application provided an automated means to export content to the SCORM format, the output still required NeL team members to manually correct converted files and resolve the conversion problems. This close attention to detail resulted in training products that were often better than the original training content.
"The Navy e-Learning team did a great job resolving a variety of complex technical issues,” said Reeves. “We worked closely with course sponsors to ensure that the converted content satisfied the requirements of our fleet learners. I am pleased with how well everyone on the team performed under time and budget constraints."
Much of the content converted by the NeL team was very "high profile, high usage" material including 28 Navy general military training courses and 146 Basic Engineering Common Core (BECC) courses. These courses were the most technically challenging for converting to SCORM because
they used interactive Adobe Flash technology.
"Converting dynamic e-learning content to SCORM offers two significant business benefits to the Navy," said Roger White, PMW 240 assistant program manager for training and education. "First, it yields cost savings by allowing the elimination of 43 servers and software licenses that no longer need to be maintained and updated. Second, the SCORM conversion enables a smoother transition to the Enterprise Training Management Delivery System (ETMDS), the Navy's modernized Web-enabled e-learning delivery capability. Organizations developing content for distribution via ETMDS may use any authoring tool capable of producing SCORM-conformant content. This will allow us to
more easily insert newer deployment technologies, such as application cloud technology, without having to redevelop the content," White said.
The Navy e-Learning Sharable Content Object Reference Model project involved collecting data to determine enrollment and completion metrics for courses eligible for conversion. Through a collaborative effort with 27 different sponsors, 749 courses were identified as candidates for retirement and removed from NeL. A valuable lesson learned from the dynamic content reduction project is the importance of regularly monitoring electronic course usage to keep the course library relevant and current. The project also contributed to improved NETC policy related to maintaining
electronic training content.
To visit the Navy e-Learning catalog,go to the Navy Knowledge Online website at https://
www.nko.navy.mil and after logging in, click on "Navy courses" under the "learning" tab on the top right of the page.
About the Sea Warrior Program
The Sea Warrior Program (PMW 240) manages a complex portfolio of information technology (IT)
systems to recruit, train, pay, promote, move, retire, and support Navy personnel and deliver Distance Support IT to the Fleet. The PMW 240 Program is part of the Navy Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) which develops, acquires, and deploys seamless enterprise-wide IT systems with full lifecycle support for the warfighter and business enterprise.
For more information, please contact the PMW 240 Public Affairs Office at 703-604-5400 or