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The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative



Principal Investigator (PI) Meeting | 3-4 April 2018 | Alexandria, VA

Principal Investigator Meeting 2018 Highlights

The ADL Initiative hosted its annual Principal Investigator Meeting comprised of 70+ participants, including Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) project performers and relevant government stakeholders. The event was a unique opportunity for performers to provide an overview of potential solutions to government stakeholder requirements.


Mr. Drummond addressing the audience

Mr. Fred Drummond, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training (DASD(FE&T)), shared his guidance for the future of training and education for personnel readiness. "We have a huge personal and professional commitment to Service members and their families, and we must take the best care of them so our forces can focus on providing the best possible protection for our country," he said. He also emphasized the Secretary of Defense's three main priorities: increasing readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming DoD business processes.

Mr. Drummond addressing the audience
Mr. Drummond addressing the audience

Principal Investigators presented on 13 active projects, many of which support the ADL Initiative's overarching effort of building the Future Learning Ecosystem, enabled by the Total Learning Architecture (TLA). The TLA program, now in the second year of development, includes projects such as Fast Learning from Unlabeled Episodes for Next-generation Tailoring (FLUENT) that uses a recommendation system to evaluate xAPI statements throughout different learning segments, which will tailor content for each user's learning experience. The TLA Data Visualization is a project for development of prototypes and specifications for analyzing, interpreting, and visualizing xAPI data. These data analytics will extract data from different TLA components and enable aggregated analyses and presentation of xAPI data across the TLA environment.

Left to right: 1. Meeting time, 2. Brainstorming during the breaks, and 3. Project poster session.

The TLA Assessment project will support the ADL Initiative in the design, organization, and execution of TLA spiral-2 testing and demonstration. The findings from this testing will be reported (as appropriate) in conferences, technical reports, and academical journals. Finally, the Competency and Skills System (CaSS), an integral part of TLA, enables competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities) and competency frameworks related to a subject, job, or task to be managed and shared across systems.


Another group of projects focused on TLA "activity providers", these include novel technologies designed to take advantage of the data-driven learning ecosystem enabled by the TLA. These activity providers include Sero!, a browser-based automated knowledge tool that uses concept maps to assess learners' mental models. The Personal eBooks for Learning (PeBL) project aims to develop an "Internet of Books" platform based on the EPUB 3 standard and xAPI specification. The goal is to extend the advantages of an eBook to make it more easily adopted by web-based platforms and to better support interactive, adaptive, and social learning. Sen$e, a financial readiness app, runs on both iOS and Android platforms, and uses mobile education best practices to assist military members and their families in building financial literacy. Finally, the PERvasive Learning System (PERLS) project is a personal assistant application for adult self-directed learning. It tracks learner progress on multiple topics and recommends content appropriate for the current stage of learning, focusing especially on microcontent suitable for brief learning at convenient times.


Other presentations focused on the Experience API (xAPI) specifications including the xAPI Conformance Project, a research initiative that will inform the requirements for a Learning Record Provider Professional Certification, and ADL integration into the Swedish multinational VIKING 18, a hard case for blending e-learning with xAPI and visualized learning analytics into training exercises.


Principal Investigators also presented an overview of the ADL Academy project, which focuses on capturing learning theories and best practices in order to maximize learning in the envisioned future learning ecosystem. Finally, since stewarding effective policy for the Department of Defense (DoD) is the ADL Initiative's number one mandate, Policy for Cybersecurity and Acquisition, and Privacy Support for TLA were also briefed. The former is a project that identifies distributed learning implementation barriers within the Defense community and provides actionable remedies to overcome cybersecurity and acquisition bottlenecks, while the latter is an effort to write a specification for privacy support in TLA.


The next Principal Investigator meeting is scheduled for April 2019, providing an opportunity to review the progress of these projects and introduce new ones that will help further our efforts.