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--Recognizes Contributions to Federal Distance Learning

Elearning! Media Group, publishers of Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines, announced today the Federal Government Distance Learning Association selected Elearning! Media Group for the Pillar Award for contributions to the Federal Government Distance Learning Industry.  The 2016 FGDLA Awards honor excellence in federal government distance learning to 16 organizations and professionals.

We are honored to earn the Pillar Award from FGDLA and congratulation the Association for delivering important industry practices and information to more than 350 federal agencies,” says Catherine Upton, Group Publisher, Elearning! Media Group.The organizations selected for the FGDLA Awards are an inspiring group and it is with deep respect that we accept this award.”

FGDLA is has named the following Federal Government employees and organizations as 2016 FGDLA Award recipients for demonstrating excellence in distance learning:

Individual Awards:

Hall of Fame: In recognition of an individual who has made significant contributions in promoting and developing distance learning in the Federal Government. 

Honoree: Dr. Kenneth P. Pisel, Joint Forces Staff College, National Defense University


Pioneer: In recognition of an individual demonstrating initiative and leadership in the development and implementation of distance learning in the Federal Government.

Five Honorees: Dale Carpenter, Distance Learning Group, National Park Service

Andrea Simonelli, Information Technology Department, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division

Naval Air Systems Command

Dr. Damon Regan, Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative

JoAnne Green, iCollege, National Defense University

Paul Thurkettle, NATO E-Learning, Allied Command Transformation

Organizational Awards:

Five-Star: In recognition of an organization demonstrating excellence in providing enterprise-wide distance learning solutions for the Federal Government.

Three Honorees: Acquisition Career Management Group Acquisition Policy and Oversight Federal Aviation Administration Digital Learning Network, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Information Technology Department, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Naval Air Systems Command


Innovation: In recognition of an organization demonstrating leadership in the development of emerging distance learning technologies providing enterprise-wide solutions for the Federal Government.

Three Honorees: Distance Learning Group National Park Service (NPS), Advanced Distribute Learning Initiative Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness), NATO E-Learning Allied Command Transformation

 

Eagle: In recognition of an individual that has served the Federal Government distance learning community by providing exceptional leadership, vision, and advocacy.

Honoree: College of Distance Education and Training Marine Corps University

 

Pillar: In recognition for outstanding service or significant contribution to the Association by an organization not affiliated with the Federal Government

Honoree: Elearning! Media Group, Publishers of Elearning! and Government Elearning! Magazines

 

This is FGDLA 20th year for proudly recognizing individuals and organizations who have made major contributions to enhancing distance learning within the Federal Government,” says Alex Autry, President, Federal Government Distance Learning Association. Not only have these recipients’ improved the knowledge and skill levels of our number one resources- people-  but have ensured our Nation is second to none.”

 

FGDLA Award Luncheon

The 20th Annual FGDLA Awards Luncheon will be hosted on December 8th at 11:50 AM in Room 151A at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. The Award Luncheon is a ticketed invitation only event conducted during FGDLA’s Government Learning Technology Symposium (GLTS).  GLTS is a free two-day conference for government personnel. Uniquely focused on the needs of Federal Government distance learning professionals, GLTS provides a venue for professionals to make connections, discuss the latest developments, and identify new regulations and trends that affect our industry. If you are involved in learning, talent development, mission execution, HR services, project management, team training and leadership, you should attend GLTS.

The GLTS is held at the Washington D.C. Convention Center, Dec. 7-8, 2016. For the complete GLTS program, visit  http://glts.fgdlaevents.us/ 
Published in Latest News

Elearning! Magazine invited Jonathan Fear, Senior Director, Coupa Software Inc., to share his insights and advice on scaling training in a fast-paced service-dominate enterprise. In this interview, Jonathan shared his best practices and lessons learned.

Q:WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE LEARNING SPACE?

Most of the trends we see in the learning field are due to the mind shift that has happened in the way we learn and see our career progression. This is a result of innovations in cloud, mobile, social, and e-commerce areas. Technology has changed how we learn, where we learn and from whom we learn. Today, pull learning is more prevalent than push learning and learners want to consume just-in-time resources, learn from their peers, and leverage their social network to get to the best content quickly. These are the trends we see in response to this cultural shift:

>> Rise of stand-alone LMS platforms

>> Emphasis on learners’ experience and ease of use

>> Attention on expert content at a variety of price and quality points >> Significance of shorter, contextual learning content

>> Focus on deeper and broader quality support >> Importance of integration to existing platforms

Q:WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR ORGANIZATION’S UNIQUE LEARNING CHALLENGES?

We were looking for a solution that could support our partner community and also provide a platform for our own internal resources to ensure an equitable learning experience. We struggled with adoption on our previous platform and because of our fast growth we needed to find a strategic partner who could provide the thought leadership and value drivers to help us scale. We were also looking for a platform with a high level of easeof-use for both learners and administrators.

Q:WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE SEEKING A NEW LEARNING PLATFORM?

Coupa delivers measurable Value As A Service so we believe that when we are working with our customers, we have an obligation to create value; there is a partnership associated with that which includes a level of thought leadership to drive adoption. We were looking for a vendor that provides that same level of thought leadership and value add to help us fully adopt their learning platform.

In recent years, there has been a flood of learning vendors coming to the market, and we found that not all learning management system (LMS) vendors are equal. We selected Litmos, which offered deep domain expertise and thought-leadership in the learning space. We were also looking for a solution that is entirely cloud-based and agile to respond to customer needs and also innovate with each product release. We wanted a partner who is continually challenging themselves to always be better, just as we do. Ultimately, we felt that the partnership with Litmos allowed us work with a company that would grow with us and we were proud to support, and would support us equally as well.

Q:HOW DID YOU GET APPROVAL FOR AN ADDITIONAL LEARNING INVESTMENT?

Coupa lives by the motto of pre-approval for service initiatives, so there’s an approval process to which we must adhere. We had an existing platform in place, and the rationale is that it’s always easier to stick with the vendor you have currently. In order to make the shift we had to present the business case to our CFO. Since we have taken a holistic approach with our training, there were many aspects that helped us build our business case. Not only are we utilizing Litmos to train our internal employees, we are also using it for partner and customer training and certification.

We homed in on a few key points in each of these channels:

Internal Benefits: Having a well-trained internal staff means that they are able to begin adding value to the organization quickly, and ongoing effectiveness, engagement, and customer success is increased.

Partner Benefits: Certifying our partner base allows us to scale much more rapidly. One of the common mistakes with building a highly successful partner channel is not training them as if they are an extension of your team. Having a partner training and certification program truly allows us to put trust in our partners and see them as a serious asset to our business.

Customer Benefits: With so many software as a service (SaaS) solutions on the market these days, ensuring that your customer base is enabled through training is a huge competitive advantage. We focused on this in our business case as increasing adoption has a big effect on customer advocacy and ongoing usage.

The results are in: Growth has increased ten times; training and adoption increased by 300 percent; and the company has doubled in size.

Q:HOW ARE YOU CREATING CONTENT USED IN YOUR CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS?

Our current courses are a mix of externally built content in Storyline, and through native modules from within Litmos. We have found that building the actual content in Storyline works best, but we are also taking advantage of surveys, exams, and learning paths natively within Litmos. Learning paths have been extremely useful for us to create an experience that is truly fit for the learner. By using the native functionality within Litmos and combining features like surveys and learning paths, both our adoption and learner satisfaction rates have rapidly increased.

Q:HOW DO YOU MANAGE CHANGES TO THE CONTENT?

We are a VaaS-based organization and are very agile in the way that we do business. That means that there is continual change that we have to be able to support from a training and documentation perspective. So we have taken a modular approach in the way we build our courses. At Coupa, we believe there needs to be a single source of truth so that if something changes we can update it in one place and ensure that populates everywhere else. We’re able to pull out a single building block within the course and make our updates there. This requires us to be very organized in the structure of our account so we can easily find specific building blocks when changes happen.

Q:HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE DURING THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS?

The process of implementing Litmos was seamless. We were able to go live shortly after singing and invite users to the platform with ease.  We also successfully integrated Litmos and Salesforce;  their integration is offered through the Salesforce AppExchange and is a certified app.  Since the certification was already in place, it put our IT team at ease during implementation.  The Litmos integration is out of the box. We went through the necessary steps to get it started -- and we were off and running very quickly. Lastly, as I mentioned, during implementation Litmos provided us with the thought leadership required to think big and take our future plans into consideration knowing that we were on a high growth trajectory.

Q:HOW HAS THE INTEGRATION WITH SALESFORCE MADE YOUR PROGRAM MORE SUCCESSFUL?

Many of our teams here at Coupa practically live within Salesforce, so it was definitely a requirement to have a seamless integration in place. We’re taking advantage of numerous areas of the Litmos and Salesforce integration, but one that really stands out for me is reporting.

Reporting is absolutely critical if you’re going to scale your business. By having our training program integrated with Salesforce, we can determine within an account who has taken training and extend those types of insights to others within the organization. This allows for an extra level of visibility which is beneficial when understanding what training someone has taken or whether they are certified. For example, if you have your services or support teams working in Salesforce, they can clearly see if the person with whom they are working has completed all necessary training which allows for an all-around more efficient process.

Q:CAN YOU SHARE ANY LESSONS LEARNED? HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR SUCCESS?

Overall, we’re thrilled with the success that we’ve had with Litmos. Before we started using the solution, we struggled with motivating people to actually want to take training. This was probably a combination of a poor learner experience and unproven content. Now we’re seeing our training offerings scale quickly and our audiences are coming back time and again to learn as much as they can about Coupa. In fact, when another LMS is introduced for complaince training we often get asked "can't we put this in Litmos?". We’re also seeing a big focus on self-service compared to standard prescription because the learning system itself is more engaging. It’s been a paradigm shift from the old one-and-done training to a combined understanding from learners that this is the platform where learning will take place. Because of the rapid adoption of the learning platform, we’re now being approached by thought leaders and subject matters experts with content to share throughout the university. Due to the increased level of shared thought leadership among our partners, we’re seeing the added benefit of content curation along with the content that we are creating.

Q:WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO COLLEAGUES LOOKING TO ROLL OUT A CUSTOMER AND PARTNER CERTIFICATION PROGRAM?

We have learned a lot through our journey of building Coupa University. If I had to focus on one overall piece of advice, I would recommend an initial focus on building a program that has the vision to scale. Many factors fall into this process, but you certainly have to be willing to make the upfront investment and work with an LMS partner who can help guide you as you grow. A huge component in rolling out a solution that scales is having a well-organized implementation. All published training has a shelf life and we have used reference codes and categories within Litmos to help us understand who created it, when it was created, what version it is, and which areas the product training applies.

Q:WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?

We absolutely plan to continue to stay at the cutting-edge with our training programs and take advantage of the new innovative functionality. Right now we are looking to extend our partner certification reporting and have that fully integrated with Salesforce like we have for our employees and customers. Moving forward, we hope to have a training checks and balances process in place which does an automated check to ensure that everyone assigned to an activity, whether a partner, internal employee, or customer, has been adequately trained prior to taking on the engagement. We’re confident that this is something we can achieve with Litmos as our LMS partner.

Published in Top Stories

HTC is opening a dedicated virtual reality app store called Viveport which will host non-gaming content separately from Valve and its Steam store. The Viveport store will be available in Vive headsets, web browsers, the PC app and a mobile app.

The Viveport store will focus on nongaming verticals including education, design, art, social, video, music, sports, health, fashion, travel, news, shopping, creativity tools, and more. The store will also support in-app purchases and subscriptions in addition to a pay-to-download model.

—Learn more: http://blog.htcvive.com/ us/2016/08/introducing-viveport/

Published in New Products

Intellum, a technology company that builds employee learning, collaboration and performance tracking tools for the modern workplace is launching an update to the Exceed Learning Management System (Exceed LMS). The new release allows learning professionals to leverage and track any type of file or asset, including items curated from the Internet, to quickly and easily create or supplement learning activities.

Intellum’s Exceed LMS eliminates the need to strictly adhere to course authoring or file output specifications (like xAPI) or invest in additional, complicated infrastructure such as a Learning Record Store. Learning professionals can now mix and match a wide variety of file types including documents, spreadsheets, presentations and PDF files, traditional e-learning assets like SCORM or AICCcompliant courseware, and non-traditional resources like links to YouTube videos, TEDTalks or blog posts. The result is a more modern enterprise learning experience that mimics the way users learn in their private lives.

—Learn more: www.intellum.com

Published in New Products

 

How will Salesforce reach $10 billion sales? Will Twitter be a Salesforce product or sell to Disney? How will Einstein close more sales for you and me?

Discover the answers at Dreamforce October 4-6, Moscone Center. Join our editors at these seven Must Attend events:

 

1.       The Sales Executive Summit at Marriott Marquis.

Forty-four sales leaders from Amazon Web Services, LinkedIn and Twitter (to name a few) share their secrets to culture, development, leadership and technology integration. Pre-registration required. Tues, Oct 4th 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM at Marriott Marquis

2.       Tony Robbins Keynote

Get ready for a sales workout with Robbins. He will define, confound, and motivate sales performers. Can’t wait to get my fix. Tues, Oct 4th 4:30-6:30 PM at Moscone Ctr

3.       Shark Tank Meets Dreamforce at DreamPitch Competition.

Marc Cuban, Will.i.am and Chris Sacca judge the next great salesforce cloud app from creative idea-ologists. The winner can receive up to $200,000 in cash and prizes. Tues, Oct 4th, 1:00-2:00 PM Moscone West, Keynote Rm 3

4.       Marc Benioff Keynote

A must attend session for all Dreamers. Let’s see Einstein at work. What is the roadmap to $10 billion? Stay tuned here. Wed, Oct 5th 1:00 – 3:00 PM Moscone Ctr

5.       U2 concert for Dreamfest & Benefit for UCSF’s Children’s Hospitals.

Got a $1000 to donate, this is ‘the concert’ to attend. Wed Oct 5th Daly City Cow Palace

6.       Einstein is in the building.

This keynote reveals AI for Everyone and what it means. Thur Oct 6th 3:00-4:00 PM Moscone Ctr

7.       CloudExpo is the place for innovation, sales and technology.

Don’t miss the opportunity to view the creativity of this community in one place. Tues-Fri Oct 4-7th, hours vary. Moscone Ctr.

Not coming to Dreamforce?

You can still see the Keynotes via Salesforce LIVE at Dreamforce Streams. OR, you can attend your local Dreamforce Hangout.  

 

Published in Top Stories

Collaboration, innovation and high performance are the mark of this year’s winning organizations.

BY CLAIRE JOHNSON

The sixth annual Learning! 100 Awards honor the world’s top learning organizations for innovation, collaboration and performance. The Learning! 100 are comprised of 60 corporate enterprises and 40 public sector honorees from government, nonprofit and education. These organizations confront the pressing issues of global competition, innovation and constant change. This year, Amazon Web Services shares how the largest cloud service company in the world can innovate at a rate of 722 new solutions annually while decreasing costs. Scripps Health takes training from the classroom and surgical urgical centers to their new simulation center where practice breeds success and improved patient outcomes. Think of the training challenges of Ingersoll Rand which brings 32 organizations organizations together under a single sales excellence program across a global sales teams.These are just a few of the great works the learning and development teams across the 2016 Learning! 100 have accomplished, all while generating outstanding financial performance. How is this possible? All of the Learning! 100 winners share a similar vision: Learning is an organizational imperative; Senior leadership leads or supports learning across the organization; and many, (84 percent), have a learning leader who drives positive impact on the business. Meet these organizations, all 100, in the following pages and upcoming upcoming events,web seminars and articles by Elearning! Media Group.

 

#1 Private Sector

Amazon Web Services’ Outcome Based Account Management Program Delivers

More than 10 years ago, Amazon Web Services started as a storage service. Today, it offers more than 70 services for compute, storage, databases, analytics, mobile and enterprise applications. The organization announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015 which is 40 percent more than what was introduced in 2014. In 2015, Amazon became the fastest company to reach $100 billion in annual sales and Amazon Web Services reached $10 billion in annual sales. The two companies are very different — one serves consumers and the other serves enterprises — but both have grown organically over time and have placed an emphasis on uncovering — rather than dictating — company culture which contributes to their successes.

Consistent with the Amazon Leadership Principle of keeping the custome rfront-andcenter, the Amazon Web Services approach to selling startswith the customer and works backward.It defines success through the customers’ eyes based on each’s individual priorities.The program,Outcome Based Account Management Program Implementation for the Global Sales Organization, has been hugely successful, which is why it’s receiving the No. 1 ranking in the Learning! 100 awards.The program is being delivered internationally and isreceiving a 4.2 score out of 5 from global participants.

Outcome-Based Account Management (OBAM) is the process, tools, competencies, and dialogue architecture for initiating and solidifying customer relationships through focus on the journey of the seller in a lifelong strategic relationship. The program offers a number of components which is what makes it effective including pre-call, pre-work, one-day live collaborative training session, three post-workshop coaching calls and on-demand OBAM playbook. Customer-driven products and solutions are at the heart and soul of this program and the results are in:

>> More than 90 percent of Amazon Web Services builds was requested by customers.

>> Amazon Web Services has dropped prices 51 times. >> Amazon Web Services continues to introduce low-cost services such as Aurora (a database engine), QuickSight (a business intelligence service), EC2 Container Service (a compute container service) and Lambda (a server-less computing capability).

Amazon is working with well-known companies to innovate and fulfill their needs. MLB Advanced Media is an example of a customer that consistently helps reinvent the customer experience with the help of Amazon Web Services’ Kinesis which processes real-time streaming data. It works to measure every pitched ball’s movements more than 2,000 times per second, stores the data onAmazon S3 and then performs pitching analytics and so many others on Amazon EC2. Collectively, the suite of services generates nearly 7TB of raw statistical data per season shedding quantitative light on baseball myths and pearls of wisdom.

Netflix is another well-known company Amazon Web Services serves. About seven years ago, decided to move all of its applications to the cloud. It opted to work with Amazon Web Services because of the greatest scale and broadest set of services and features. With the success of Netflix’s transition, Infor, Intuit and Time, Inc. have decided to move their application to Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services already attracts more than 1 million customers and as the team continues its rapid pace of innovation that allows more capabilities for builders, it will be easier to collect, store and analyze data, allowing access from more geographic locations and rapid growth in mobile and connected devices. With this rate of growth, Amazon Web Services is No. 1 on the 2016 Learning! 100 top learning organizations.

Amazon Web Services is a first-time Learning! 100 award winner.

WHILE ALWAYS KEEPING THE CUSTOMER IN MIND, AMAZON WEB SERVICES CONTINUES TO GROW RAPIDLY:

Amazon Web Services QR 2

 

#1 Public Sector

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Leadership Development Program

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a premier applied science laboratory within the Department of Energy, serves more than 6,500 employees in a number of technical disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and computer science among others. The researchers work together to achieve technical innovations and scientific breakthrough in areas such as nonproliferation, cybersecurity, clean energy, climate change, manufacturing and medicine. There’s an emphasis on values and employees are encouraged to uphold them with the way they interact with one another, sponsors, stakeholders and the public. LLNL senior leaders recognize that a highly capable, innovative and sustainable workforce, led by talented management is essential to the success of the Laboratory — that’s why the Leadership Development program was developed.

Learning is aligned with strategic business goals and embedded in the workflow, accelerating business impact and organizational agility. LLNL’s learning program connects with talent management, linking skills and competencies with succession planning and leadership development. Employees are empowered to take charge of their career development, supported by a program that promotes learning and knowledge sharing throughout the employee lifecycle.

LLNL’s learning program features ULearn, their online learning center, at its hub. More than 65 percent of LLNL has a U-Learn account which consists of a portfolio of resources that are responsive to the Laboratory’s environment, mission, skill base and future. ROI surveys reveal that 96 percent of employees believe that U-Learn benefited them and 80 percent of learners were able to apply what they learned within six weeks. Further, LLNL revealed the return on investment for the program was 1,129 percent or a benefitto-cost ratio of 12.8 to 1. The Leadership Development program uses a blended learning approach by incorporating online resources found in U-Learn into its curriculum as well as pre-assessments, coaching opportunities, project work, and instructor-led workshops.

Financially challenging times and new workforce expectations require leaders and learning programs to be cost-effective and integrate technology. The Leadership Development program was created as a solution to address both these needs. Drawing on a self-assessment conducted with the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business which identified strengths and gaps in leadership capabilities, the plan for integrated leadership development programs began, addressing needs at multiple career levels, aligned with the strategic direction. Today’s program has evolved to include an intentional roadmap for leaders that builds their skills as they gain tenure. LLNLs’ leadership program has three curriculum components: culture, leadership and accountability. A culture of trust, development, and innovation helps prepare leaders to improve their skills to be able to deliver on LLNL’s mission. An institutional set of leadership competencies help leaders move the organization forward and make informed decisions and each leader is account able for their decision, no matter the outcome. When an individual has been identified for a leadership role, he or she will create a 180-day assimilation plan and over the following four years, will work closely with management and the learning organization for assessment, feedback, performance tools and workshops.

Lawrence Livermore National Labs QR

 

#2 Private Sector

At Vi, Learning is a Leadership Competency

Vi operates residential facilities for active and retired adults operated by Hilton Hotels. Vi employs 2,946 people across 10 facilities and its corporate office. Vi’s strong collaboration with business partners and alignment of learning strategies and initiatives are what drives results. What makes Vi unique is how the company’s Learning and Organizational Development department engages with its business partners. Responsibility for learning is viewed as a leadership competency and is part of each leaders’ annual goals which are tied to compensation. This partnership has manifested in high levels of employee and resident satisfaction, high levels of employee retention and strong financial and quality performance. performance. Nine out of 11 of Vi’s locations have won awards as top employers and best places to work in 2015.

Vi’s future success depends upon developing future leaders with the same cultural DNA. Vi’s Breakthrough Leadership Program does just that. It leverages the best of classroom, virtual and collaborative learning and multi-faceted evaluation techniques to measure each aspect of the program. Vi partnered with organizational development faculty from DePaul University to identify what specific elements of Vi’s leadership training program were effective and worked to refine what specific elements contribute to participant success. In the past, Vi strictly relied on program participant retention, promotion rates and participant and managerial feedback to assess program effectiveness. Although each component of this program offers the benefit of providing unique learning, insight, and reinforcement of concepts, each learning event has its own training assessment associated with it. A determination of overall program effectiveness requires capturing information about learners that is based on the objectives of the entire program, not simply tied to a given learning event. The end goal was to design a more systematic approach to assessing training outcomes connected to learning across the program.

As a result, Vi implemented a variety of assessment tools for participants, their managers and peers. These assessments were taken before the start of the program, during the program, and after the program ended to measure the effectiveness of each program element. In addition, Vi’s Learning and Organizational Development team engaged senior executives throughout the entire program (including virtual sessions) to reinforce key concepts and share personal learning. Vi invested in key partners such as faculty from DePaul University, Harvard Business and TalentSmart to deliver best in class solutions. Successful training effectiveness assessment depended on using multiple methods and sources of data and focused on outcomes known to be empirically associated with increased learning readiness, training motivation, transfer of training and job performance. Findings included:

>> Emotional Intelligence scores exceeded benchmark data across all dimensions by 10 percent. Overall emotional quotient scores increased seven percent to 86 percent with a 75 percent benchmark.

>> Knowledge gains were evaluated pre-class, after class and one year later, and showed a 25 percent increase in knowledge.

>> Attitudes and skills evaluated pre- and one year later reported an 11-percent average gain across all dimensions including self-efficacy, utility, transfer motivation, role clarity, supervisor support, skills self-assessment.

>> Engagement in leadership development activities asking for feedback by capabilities increased from 30 to 80 percent. >> All 13 dimensions measured saw a nearly 90 percent increase in abilities.

VI is a six-time Learning! 100 award winner.

HEAR FROM THE WINNER:

Vi QR

 

#2 Public Sector

DAU’s Performance-based Strategic Plan

Defense Acquisition University (DAU) graduates 240,000 students annually, serves more than 1 million learners per year and is on the cutting edge of social and mobile learning, as well as virtual learning. DAU’s efforts to develop and implement innovative learning strategies have enabled the organization to achieve international recognition as a premier corporate university. Looking ahead, organizational leaders continue to examine emerging trends and technologies to ensure that the university offers the best capabilities to the workforce, a task that requires constant self-assessment and reinvention.

The Department of Defense’s priorities are changing; its current challenge is to not just to do more with less, but to do it better and smarter. Additionally, DAU has achieved global reach and phenomenal growth, superb customer feedback, and an industry-wide reputation and accreditation for excellence.

To address these challenges, DAU’s Performance-based Strategic Plan for Shaping the Future incorporates its unique enterprise learning strategy, the Acquisition Learning Model (ALM) into its first three goals that guide all of the university’s efforts to adapt and improve. The three-year DAU Performance-based Strategic Plan for Shaping the Future incorporates the organization’s unique enterprise Learning Strategy, the Acquisition Learning Model (ALM), into its first three strategic goals: foundational learning, workflow learning and performance learning. DAU has integrated with shared assets from all three to create a powerful learning environment for the new workforce. It recognizes that foundational learning delivered in classroom and online courses must be connected to robust learning that goes on continuously, outside of structured courses that includes workflow learning which helps workers just in time and on the job. Performance learning targets students through high-impact consulting with specific challenges for programs, organizations and individuals.All three are integrated to create a powerful learning environment for the new workforce. The plan is implemented through a continuous multi-year process. The first year is executed and managed by an annual performance plan that is organized by five strategic goals and more than 100 performance tasks to be completed. These are cascaded down through the leadership team and to individual faculty and staff via their incentive plans to complete.

Another important DAU challenge is to help the new workforce and generation of learners succeed on the job. They will have fewer career opportunities for which to learn and gain experience, fewer mentors to help them learn, and fewer resources, yet still they must prevail. Meeting the demands of this new workforce has already driven significant changes in how they approach workforce learning and development. As a result, they are increasingly relying on DAU learning assets on the job. This new set of challenges has ushered in a paradigm shift from where everyone must play a role in learning and development and successes are gauged upon others’ rather than solely on each individual.

The DAU’s strategic plan has been recognized as an award-winning best practice, received a six-year accreditation and has been awarded a commendable rating by the Council of Occupational Education.

DAU is a six-time Learning! 100 award winner.

HEAR FROM THE WINNER:

Defense Acquisition University QR

 

Read more and see the full list of Learning! 100 Companies:  http://elmezine.epubxp.com/t/185271-elearning-august-september/16

Published in Top Stories

Veterans from across the country began a new career journey in the VA Acquisition Academy (VAAA) Acquisition Internship School’s Warriors to Workforce (W2W) Program. They came into the program not knowing what to expect. Many of them had their military career cut short by battlefield injuries and were left to answer the question, “What’s next?” The W2W Program was created to answer that question and provide returning wounded veterans an opportunity to apply military experiences and highly transferrable skills to the contract specialist career field within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other federal government agencies. The holistic program leverages GI Bill benefits to meet mandatory college education requirements and provides extensive technical and business skills training, advanced biofeedback work, and mission service. It utilizes a cohort model that provides a built-in support system and network that mirrors the team environment and camaraderie veterans experience in the military, easing the transition to the civilian professional world.

In their first year, the interns earn 36 college credits in business courses. To date, W2W participants have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in college level courses. At completion of year one, participants transition into existing career development programs, such as our award-winning Acquisition Intern Program (AIP). Through AIP, they go on to complete the education requirements to achieve a Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) Level II, which is recognized throughout the federal sector as evidence of a solid education in the professional career field.

More than 120 wounded warrior veterans have been hired into the W2W program to date, which includes VA as well as three other government agency participants. Ninety-four percent have completed the W2W Program. Three cohorts have successfully transitioned to the VA’s Acquisition Intern Program (AIP) and one to the VA’s Project Management Fellows (PMF) Program. One-hundred percent of the inaugural W2W cohort that graduated from AIP was placed permanently in the acquisition workforce across the country. They come from all across the country, represent all branches of service and, between them, earned 27 Purple Hearts, 46 Combat Action Ribbons and six Bronze Stars.

Veterans display many of the attributes that are important in contracting like trust, integrity, teamwork, problem solving, and leadership. Supervisors in the field offices where they conduct job rotations and are ultimately integrated into the acquisition workforce often remark that they wish they could be cloned.

The undertaking supports VAAA’s mission of recapitalizing the acquisition workforce and the VA’s commitment to veteran employment.

The program offers new optimism and confidence to returning wounded warriors and provides a great source of talent for the federal workforce. It’s mutually beneficial and rewarding.

More information about VA’s Acquisition Academy is available atwww.acquisitionacademy.va.gov

By Stephanie Belella, Acquisition Internship School Program Manager, VA Acquisition Academy

Published in Insights

Researchers find breakthrough in neuroscience that will contribute to machine learning.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the California Technical Institute (Caltech) studied the activity of individual neurons when humans are learning through observation. The study used abstract levels of computational models that reflected in the activity of individual neurons and supported human behavior and interaction. Michal Hill, the study’s research group leader, called the study groundbreaking in that it “transcend[s] different levels of neuroscience.”

The study called for ten patients suffering from epilepsy who were instructed to play a card game. When the patients observed other players, the neurons created a complex learning language and the electrodes reflected the changes in neural behavior caused by observing the other players. When observing others, the neurons in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) registered the expected value of an observed choice and the prediction error after the outcome was revealed. The parameters were used by the brain to learn from others’ experiences rather than learning from their own mistakes.

Machine learning is largely created the same way; machines are taught by observations and reactions. Machine learning is expensive to develop, and building robots that can move on their own with required special sensitivity is a time-consuming task. However, many large organizations consider it a worthwhile undertaking and many are willing to share their information with developers willing to use it. Elon Musk opened a lab for developers to work on AI as part of a nonprofit this summer. Facebook is launching Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) in order to help machines register two-dimensional images. 

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Innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit have led to some of the 21st century’s greatest companies, products and services. Business leaders have seen the power that a single out-of-the-box idea has to transform an organization — or even an industry — in a short amount of time, and now corporate innovation programs have become a central business practice. Most of today’s graduates and CEOs probably didn’t think they’d be spending their careers hunting for unicorns, but that’s increasingly the task of today’s leaders. The market is hungry for the next billion dollar idea that will make a company an overnight success, or keep it relevant in a technology-driven economy.

To compete, companies should always be looking for new and innovative ways to engage customers and improve products and services. Smart leaders know this responsibility can’t rest solely in the C-Suite. Harnessing the power of a diverse workforce and unique employee perspectives is one of the surest ways to generate out-of-the-box ideas, services and products that set a company apart. This makes workforce development, and having an aggressive strategy in place to recruit, develop and retain a highly skilled workforce that can stay ahead of the curve, extremely critical.

The Tech Skills Gap

The rapid advancement of technology within corporate America, has led to a new kind of skills gap where employees who are fully-qualified within their field find themselves falling behind due to a lack of technological savvy or drive to innovate within their organization. A recent University of Phoenix survey found that only 37 percent of working U.S. adults consider themselves entrepreneurial within their own positions — also known as “intrapreneurial.”

The tech skills shortage is also deeply impacting information technology professions. The demand for tech-skilled employees is growing far faster than the pool of qualified candidates.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, computer science careers are projected to grow by more than 22 percent, making it one of the fastest growing occupations during that time period.

The result is that some job seekers feel like their skills are outdated and their contributions to the company are stymied. Employers are consequently frustrated by the skills gaps between employees and the evolving needs of the organization. 

A Regional Approach

Cities rely on the strength of their workforce to fuel growth of urban populations, maintain housing prices and to insulate against negative economic impacts. Human capital is arguably the single most important factor in evaluating a city’s resiliency. When looking at cities that have reinvented themselves, Boston tops the list, having transitioned from a dying manufacturing town in the early 1980s to the vibrant information city it is today. Researchers argue this result is, in part, due to the fact that in 2000, half of Bostonians between age 25 and 34 had college degrees. 

Educational institutions have an opportunity and obligation to increase the relevance of their degrees by advancing their offerings to meet the needs of employers and job seekers in every community in the United States. Universities are uniquely positioned to assess local market conditions and tailor educational programs to ensure residents have the skills for meaningful careers and that businesses have qualified workforces that keep them in the market. There are several cities across the country working closely with higher education to boost the size and skills of their workforces and improve the labor market for employers, including the new “techtopia” of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas, a New Tech Hub?

Though most commonly known for its party culture and the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mentality, Las Vegas is quickly becoming an IT-centric economy. Clark County is home to more than 37,000 IT professionals, making up nearly 70 percent of the total IT workforce in Nevada according to the Nevada Government Office of Economic Development. Between 2014 and 2023, the number of jobs in that state is expected to grow by more than 10 percent.

The desert city has also been a launch pad for some of the most well-known, award-winning gadgets and technological advances introduced to the global stage in recent years. Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest trade show and platform for innovation, The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), renowned for introducing some of today’s most revolutionary products, including smartphones, wearable tech devices and Wi-Fi enabled appliances. 

Zappos.com, the largest online shoe store, found its home in the heart of the city and has even made inroads to revitalize downtown Las Vegas with the Downtown Project, an initiative to take the city from good to great and transform it into a hub for inspiration, entrepreneurism, creativity and innovation. SuperNAP, one of the world’s most advanced technology ecosystems is also housed in Las Vegas and is an active partner in the city’s tech revitalization.

Igniting Innovation at RedFlint

Las Vegas is poised to be a major player when it comes to innovation and business, and that is why University of Phoenix is investing in the city of Las Vegas to provide an innovation resource that incubates and accelerates the ideas that solve today’s business challenges.

RedFlint, an innovation experience center, will immerse visitors in an experiential, hands-on learning environment that will foster the skills and strategy development necessary to revolutionize a business and industry from the inside out. University of Phoenix College of Information Systems & Technology, University of Phoenix School of Business and Iron Yard Ventures are working to satisfy the needs of the entire business spectrum using real problems facing communities and businesses to help cultivate the creative thinking that will lead to tomorrow’s business solutions.

RedFlint helps employees looking to update their technology skill sets and get their hands on the latest software and technologies; new businesses looking for entrepreneurial support; and established businesses looking to kick-start innovation and development programs. Additionally, the center will provide space and training events to assist local nonprofits, K-12 educators, small businesses and other community organizations.

This open-concept center, situated in the Bank of America Plaza building in downtown Las Vegas, will provide businesses and the community the opportunity to experiment with new technologies and business angles to create solutions to local business, industry and city challenges. However, the RedFlint team aims to help businesses in a way that will be felt far beyond the bright lights of Las Vegas.

It only made sense to open RedFlint in a city that is as forward thinking as the center will be. The RedFlint center will serve as a dynamic innovation ecosystem for the Las Vegas business community to experience and test new concepts, programs and technology.

RedFlint Innovation Center will hold an open house on October 13, 2016.  

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Machine learning has come a long way in recent years. Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (FAIR) has developed a number of machine learning tools that go beyond object recognition, and has given them to the public. Developers are encouraged to play with and code the company’s open sourced tools. Although FAIR is not the first company to release its tools, one thing that sets it apart is that the tools recognize two-dimensional images rather than just depth sensors. Also, rather than putting a box around images, it can almost see each detail in the photo.

Facebook hasn’t made use of these tools just yet, FAIR released them early, allowing developers to work on them and solve short-term problems that can be built upon and into a bigger picture for future Facebook projects.

Tech giant Google is also working diligently to develop several AI programs. Google’s TensorFlow machine using technology is used to save farmers’ time with sorting cucumbers, using machine learning to recognize each cucumbers’ attributes such as color, shape and size. An Arduino Micro uses the information to control the actual sorting and a Windows PC trains the neural network with images. Currently, it takes two or three days to train the program using low-resolution photos, but this example shows just how advanced and profitable machine learning can be.

Machine learning can be beneficial for the environment. One of the major obstacles that big data centers face is keeping their servers cool because of the amount of energy used. Google is now using its DeepMind artificial intelligence to manage the power usage in parts of its data centers. The company tracked variables like temperature and pump speed to come up with an energy-efficient cooling method and ended up reducing the amount of electricity needed for cooling by 40 percent. 

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