On Aug. 19, 2011, Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic in Norfolk, Va., became the frontrunner in a new online training program called, "Shore Unique Courseware." Working directly with the Center for Information Dominance (CID) in Pensacola, Fla., this courseware fills the knowledge gap for all new information systems technicians (IT) reporting to a NCTAMS from IT "A" School. The course significantly reduces the time required to train personnel on 30 intricate communications systems so they can begin working productively at their assigned duty station.
"It usually takes a new Sailor about 120 hours to complete even the most basic qualifications when reporting directly to the watch floor," said ITC (SW/IDW) Derrick Owens, leading chief petty officer for the NCTAMS LANT training division. "Now that time can be reduced by at least 50 percent, or more, allowing the new Sailor to report directly to the watch floor armed with the advanced knowledge of the communications systems they will be directly interacting with."
This reduction, in turn, means faster qualification times in a more efficient process allowing the "customer" in an afloat unit to receive quality technical support at all levels.
Using a facilitated Web-based curriculum tailored to four functional areas, such as satellite connectivity, messaging, network configurations and networking essentials, the Shore Unique curriculum provides 116 hours of instruction through 99 lessons. ITSN Dylan Carter, one of the first students in the program, said, "The most valuable part of the training was being able to have the material explained in the module and then see how it actually works on the watch floor. It made learning and qualifying on the equipment that much easier."
Using the abundance of navigational tools available in the courseware program also helps the students to perform multiple procedures in a simulated software environment. The Shore Unique Courseware is also followed up through instructor-led activities and on-the-job training, which involves participation by the student in a life-like set of complex cues and performance-based responses.
Since many systems and processes are unique to the NCTAMS, the Shore Unique Courseware utilizes real-time working documents to post and share correctable discrepancies on the system's technical or functional capabilities. Combined with assessment metrics and strategies, such as pre- and post tests with handson interaction between the student, the facilitator, and the technical support from CID, the Shore Unique curriculum can continue to evolve to the needs of the NCTAMS and the warfighter at sea.
"Before most of our Sailors would go straight to the watch floor before they even went through command indoctrination," said Lt. Chad Rogers, training division officer for the operations department. "Now, we can take them as soon as they get here and provide them the opportunity to go through indoctrination, get Electronic Key Management System qualified, and qualify in watch floor fundamentals before even being placed in their work space. Combine that with the multitude of courses available to them in Shore Unique, and our return on investment is invaluable not only to the command, but the Sailor standing watch out on the deckplates at sea!"
ITSA Erik Tellin and ITSA Alexandra Scott, two NCTAMS LANT students who had the rare opportunity to be the first to go through the two-week Shore Unique pilot program, said they look forward to being of great value to their divisions and look forward to becoming the "go-to" person in any NCTAMS LANT communications system.
Thanks to the interactive laboratories in each module, students can practice what they have learned on virtual equipment that is exactly the same as what they will use when they move to the watch floor.
The pilot program successfully kicked off at NCTAMS LANT and will soon be used at other communications facilities throughout the fleet. The future looks even brighter for ITs because NCTAMS LANT intends to bring shipboard personnel into the virtual world of Shore Unique Courseware.
Lt. Chad A. Rogers is the training division officer in the NCTAMS LANT operations department.