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The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative

About the ADL Initiative

The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative is a government program reporting to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training (DASD(FE&T)), under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness (ASD(R)).



The ADL Initiative bridges across Defense and other Federal agencies to encourage collaboration, facilitate interoperability, and promote best practices for using distributed learning to provide the highest-quality education, training, informal learning, and just-in-time support; tailored to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime and anywhere, in order to increase readiness, save resources, and facilitate interorganizational collaboration.



The ADL Initiative pursues three broad lines of effort (LOEs):

  • LOE 1: Research and Development (R&D) for Distributed Learning Modernization
    The ADL Initiative strives to develop the next-generation of distributed learning science techniques and technologies via research, development, and collaboration. In accordance with its original mandate, the ADL Initiative’s R&D work seeks to develop and assess advanced distributed learning prototypes that enable more effective, efficient, and affordable learner-centric lifelong learning. These R&D activities span technical areas such as e-learning, mobile learning, learning analytics and associated learner modeling, interoperability specifications for distributed learning systems, and associated learning theory.
  • LOE 2: Distributed Learning Policy and Technical Guidelines
    The ADL Initiative’s R&D efforts inform its policy work. That is, the program’s emerging concept exploration, requirements engineering, and visioning work helps it develop effective policy, software specifications, and other technical guidance for military, government, and other industry stakeholders. Notable ADL Initiative contributions to distributed learning policy and specifications include the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM®), Experience API (xAPI), and the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1322.26, “Distributed Learning,” which establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, prescribes procedures, and establishes information requirements for developing, managing, providing, and evaluating distributed learning for DoD military and civilian personnel.
  • LOE 3: Implementation Support and Cross-Coordination
    The ADL Initiative aspires to serve as a thought leader for forward-looking distributed learning topics within the DoD, other national and coalition governmental agencies, and the greater professional community. For the ADL Initiative, thought leadership involves the curation (i.e., collection, validation, synthesis, maintenance, and dissemination) of relevant requirements, emerging targets of opportunity, corresponding strategic roadmaps, and associated policy guidance. The program works closely with stakeholders to help them implement effective, coordinated advanced distributed learning solutions. This includes coordination via the ADL Initiative professional communities of practice, the Defense ADL Advisory Committee (DADLAC), international governmental bodies (such as NATO), and the ADL Initiative Global Partnership Network.