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The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative

Table Of Contents

 

Introduction

This guide is the official reference and support resource for Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1322.26. This reference guide augments Section four ("Distributed Learning: Standards, Implementation, and Other Considerations") and Section 5 ("DADLAC Charter") from DoDI 1322.26. This reference contains the most recent technical information available and will be updated as ADL Initiative and the DADLAC identify new information or recommend changes to standards, specifications, conformance, testing, acquisition, and other distributed learning topic areas. Readers are encouraged to visit this reference guide frequently for the latest available technical information and guidelines.

 

Background

When the original DoDI 1322.26 was published in 2006 it did not include a companion reference guide maintained by ADL Initiative. While updating the DoDI 1322.26 in 2016, DoD Components identified a need for ADL Initiative to provide companion documentation that could be easily updated independent of the instruction. This reference guide was created to satisfy this need and better support new requirements and emerging learning technology standards for DoD Components and DADLAC members.

 

Distributed Learning

DL is defined in the DoD 1322.26 as any type of learning mediated with technology and accessed through a network or experienced via portable media. A key characteristic of DL and distinction from traditional classroom learning is that instruction and learning can occur independent of time and place (asynchronous and self-paced).

 

Standards and Specifications

DL standards are published technical specification documents that are designed to ensure interoperability of learning technology products, services, and data. Standards help form the building blocks of DL by establishing consistent protocols that can be universally understood and adopted. This helps improve compatibility and generally simplifies DL development. Standards also make it easier to understand and compare competing products and systems. It is only through the application of such standards that new DL products can be tested and verified for conformance.


ADL Initiative is the principal steward of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM®) and the Experience API (xAPI). The affordances of these two standards and various types of DL they support underpin much of what the DoDI 1322.26 policy is based upon.

 

SCORM®

For more information on SCORM®, the DoD standard for self-paced, asynchronous DL that is specifically delivered in a desktop/laptop browser please read the DoDI SCORM® Reference.

 

xAPI

For more information on xAPI, the new standard for tracking all other types of learning activities that can be delivered on any device or platform read the DoDI xAPI Reference.

 

Implementation Options

The considerations referenced above include adopting existing standards, as well as evolving profile specifications, to support the current and future interoperability requirements of DL content and systems. DL Components should implement ADL learning standards and specifications in one of the following systems:


Option 1: Implement a SCORM®-conformant LMS

  1. Conforms to all mandatory LMS requirements for the targeted version of SCORM®.
  2. Supports the SCORM® API.
  3. Supports SCORM® data model elements and version-dependent behaviors.

Option 2: Implement SCORM®-conformant LMS with LRS

  1. Conforms to all mandatory LMS requirements for the targeted version of SCORM®.
  2. Conforms to the xAPI base specification.
  3. Can optionally conform to the xAPI SCORM® profile specification to support translation and exchange of historic and incoming SCORM® data to xAPI.
  4. Can optionally conform to the xAPI cmi5 profile specification to support launch, packaging, and other cmi5-specific features.
  5. Can optionally send or receive data to or from other LRS implementations.

Option 3: Implement Standalone LRS

  1. Conforms to the xAPI base specification.
  2. Conforms to all mandatory LRS requirements for the targeted version of xAPI.
  3. Can optionally send or receive data to or from other LRS implementations.
  4. Can optionally conform to the cmi5 or SCORM® profile specifications.

In addition, content requirements will drive the implementation. Considerations are offered here.

 

Conformance

ADL Initiative oversees the process of DL conformance testing for SCORM® and xAPI. The conformance tests for xAPI are focused on LRS conformance and are being developed. Improving the conformance testing landscape for xAPI is a top priority for ADL Initiative. Certification opportunities for SCORM® and xAPI will also be announced in the near future.

 

DL Systems

DL systems are applications such as an LMS, LCMS, or LRS intended to support sophisticated learning and training capabilities leveraging DL content. Similar to "Analyzing DL Requirements" above for DL content, DoD Components should consider the following for DL systems:

  • Components should develop or acquire a DL system that supports the latest versions and editions of existing DL standards to maximize interoperability. Refer to the SCORM® reference or xAPI reference for details of this support.
  • Before acquiring a DL system, DoD Components will evaluate existing resources within the DoD. Many DL systems have the capability to customize administrative functionality, user experience, and interface to specific DoD Component needs. DoD Components should consider in any development or acquisition use of an open-source or government-off-the-shelf (GOTS) DL system. Open source and GOTS systems may reduce overall ownership costs and improve flexibility.
  • DoD Components are encouraged to develop or acquire a DL system that permits the transmission of data to other systems like human resource and training management systems. Research to facilitate the sharing of learning data among learning systems is ongoing.

For most DL systems, we expect there will be some mix of LMS, LCMS, and/or LRS available. DoDI 1322.26 establishes baseline scenarios for the interplay of SCORM® and xAPI in DL systems. ADL Initiative will update this reference as best practices emerge from those baseline scenarios and/or alternative practices are deemed to be preferable for DL training and learning among DoD Components.

 

Other Acquisition & Development Considerations

Analyzing DL Requirements

Analysis is critical for informing the acquisition, design, and development decisions of DL content. DoD Components responsible for developing DL must conduct an analysis before creating or acquiring new or modifying existing training materials. DoD Components should identify and analyze performance gaps and determine the best solutions to address the gaps. If DL content is identified as an appropriate solution, DoD Components should:

  • Establish project goals including requirements for return on investment, financial management, and time efficiencies.
  • Identify job tasks, along with knowledge, skills, and abilities to be performed.
  • Search existing course curriculum and materials that might be reused or repurposed for the intended training.
  • Determine and assess available technologies and media for possible integration to achieve the desired learning outcomes.
  • Determine instructional strategies that would provide appropriate and engaging content and the capability of the technology and media to employ the strategies.
  • Identify measures and efficacy of the overall project to the organization or component.
 

Section 508 Accessibility

Federal regulation mandates electronic and information technology resources be made accessible to people with disabilities, e.g., 508 compliant. When appropriate DL should be made accessible to disabled employees and disabled members of the public. Access shall be comparable to that available to non-disabled individuals in compliance with the requirements, applicability, and alternatives provided in Procedures for Ensuring the Accessibility of Electronic and InformationTechnology (E&IT) Procured by DoD Organizations. Current specific standards and methods for development and testing are provided at the Section 508 website.

 

Security

DoDI 1322.26 does not specifically address cybersecurity or information assurance (IA) considerations, although ADL Initiative recognizes that such considerations are imperative for DL implementations.

 

Technical Publications

When specifically acquiring or developing Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals, consider the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) or S1000D specifications.