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CHIPS Articles: Embracing e-Learning: Green and Effective

Embracing e-Learning: Green and Effective
By Mary Purdy - July-September 2010
The Department of the Navy (DON), like many organizations, is experiencing critical cybersecurity and information technology (IT) skill shortages, increased competition for talent, and limited resources. As new challenges and opportunities related to virtual work, virtual leadership, and virtual learning arise, the DON looks for innovative learning strategies to help improve performance in the workplace.

Navy and Marine Corps commands and organizations provide several forms of training and instruction for their cybersecurity employees. Personnel attend school or commercial courses, in-house classes, or are provided with manuals and self-study guides. These traditional methods are effective, but they don't align to the department's goal to become "green."

One of the ways to reduce the carbon footprint for training is to limit the number of classroom training sessions, especially those that require travel. Another way is to use virtual classroom or self-paced e-learning to replace textbooks. As the DON replaces older technology with green IT, we need to reconsider the situations where it is advantageous to use e-learning courses or other forms of online instruction, instead of traditional training methods.

While there may be challenges in using e-learning in some situations, the benefits for expanding learning opportunities and controlling costs are real. The time is right for the DON command, control, communications and computers (C4), IT and cybersecurity workforce to strongly embrace e-learning to address critical learning requirements and support green IT initiatives.

E-Learning Course Offerings

The DON workforce has access to two centrally funded e-learning programs, so professionals can study wherever they have access to a computer and the Internet. The first program, SkillSoft, is funded by Navy Cyber Forces Command and the Marine Corps Training and Education Command. The second program, funded by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), includes training developed in-house as well as the Carnegie Mellon Virtual Training Environment (VTE).

SkillSoft e-Learning Suite Alignment with DoD 8570.01-M Approved Certifications

SkillSoft's government representative works closely with the four services to ensure SkillSoft courses support the DoD Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program (IA WIP). Content for CompTIA's A+, Network+ and Security+, along with International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)²'s CISSP, are currently part of the 3,000 e-Learning courses available.

In fall 2010, the EC-Council's Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and Information Systems Audit and Control Association's (ISACA) Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) course will also be available.

SkillSoft Additional OS Certifications

Personnel working at Information Assurance Technical (IAT) Level 1 and IAT Level 2 must also obtain appropriate computing environment certifications for the operating system(s) and/or security related tools/devices they support. SkillSoft supports numerous commercial IT certifications including:
• Microsoft: MCDBA, MCSA, MCSE, MCAD, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP;
• Linux: LPIC junior and intermediate level administration;
• Cisco: CCDP, CCNA, CCNP;
• Sun: Solaris 9 operating environments certification; and
• Oracle: DBA/OCA (10g and 11g), DBA/OCP (10g and 11g).

SkillSoft Test Prep

Courses: Self-paced, Web-based courses (averaging two hours in length) teach skills and knowledge required for certification exams.
Test Preps: Practice exams for learners to confirm test readiness in a simulated environment.
Mentoring: Online mentors, available via e-mail and chat to answer questions and provide learner guidance for certification preparation. Team mentors are

Figure 1. VTE Lecture Interface
Figure 1. VTE Lecture Interface

Figure 2. Network diagram for a typical VTE hands-on lab.
Figure 2. Network diagram for a typical VTE hands-on lab.
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CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

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