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Enterprise Course Catalog Update

February 02, 2021

The ADL Initiative’s Enterprise Course Catalog project has completed its next iteration of requirements discovery and is moving toward prototype testing. The project will provide a globally searchable directory of DoD course listings by automatically pulling metadata from local catalogs spread across the Department.

The ADL Initiative developed a pre-alpha prototype in early 2020, using sample course metadata from catalogs managed by the Air Education and Training Command, Defense Acquisition University, and Naval Education and Training Command. This prototyping effort—which aggregated metadata from over 50,000 courses—established a baseline level for data maturity in the participating catalogs, refined a software architecture approach for the project, and identified challenges for metadata standardization.

“There are tens of thousands of courses available throughout DoD,” said Amy Rogers, DoD Chief Learning Officer. “Information about them is spread across hundreds of different servers with limited visibility and interoperability across the organizations that host them. The Enterprise Course Catalog will open Department-wide access and significantly increase awareness of valuable courses for our workforce. Ultimately, it saves us all time, improves access and makes systems more user-friendly.”

Other benefits of the Enterprise Course Catalog will include cost avoidance through reduced duplication of courses and resource savings by streamlining access to content. In the future, with the aid of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, the catalog could also help guide personnel toward career goals by supporting the personalization of education/training opportunities.

Beginning in September 2020 and building on the pre-alpha effort, development of a refined prototype began in collaboration with USALearning and vendors Deloitte Consulting, and edX Corp. This prototype enables the sharing of data on local networks across different domains.

“This is more than just another static course catalog,” said Eric Flamer of Deloitte Consulting. “The architecture allows local control of catalog content by federating the data from catalogs in different domains. This will require continued close cooperation with stakeholders to harmonize their metadata strategies, while providing stakeholders the flexibility to incorporate or maintain their unique metadata requirements.”

The latest prototype also includes an automated software service that scrapes the local metadata to ensure that shared, enterprise information remains up-to-date.

“The Enterprise Course Catalog offers a powerful and flexible solution to DoD’s need for organization-wide access to learning opportunities,” said Matt Drayer of edX. “Our work leverages an automated scalable metadata collection pipeline to enable the discovery of relevant up-to-date content by thousands of daily users.”

Key to this capability is the ADL Initiative’s work to amend and promulgate the P2881 Standard for Learning Activity Metadata. Work is progressing to update this metadata standard through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC). The new P2881 draft standard leverages existing education and training schemas to describe the attributes applicable to any learning resource, including multimedia content and courses, as well as relevant metadata that resides outside of learning catalogs, such as post-course ratings and lifecycle information. P2881 will better allow metadata from diverse learning activities to be used by software recommenders, automated schedulers, competency and credential management systems, and other third-party tools.

As these elements fall into place, the ADL Initiative’s developers are preparing for testing and continued development within active DoD networks. This requires compliance to DoD policies, such as data privacy and cybersecurity accreditation, which are being coordinated through the Army’s Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center.

The ADL Initiative organized a webinar on the Enterprise Course Catalog’s development on 26 January 2021. A recording of the webinar, designed for DoD personnel involved in education, training, and human capital programs, is available along with downloadable documents and links to more information.

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