The Expertise Centre of Educational sciences of the Dutch Ministry of Defence (ECOD) provides training for all educators within the Armed Forces. Future trainers, mentors, designers and training developers are prepared at ECOD to start working successfully at their own departments and regiments after their training. There, they can apply the various skills and toolings they learned at ECOD to further improve education within the Armed Forces. Recently, GPAL was included as one of the standard supporting educational tools learned at the ECOD.
“By already introducing GPAL at the ECOD, we are trying to plant a seed with future training designers and developers. Then automatically, trainers and teachers will start to use GPAL too. We hope to start a movement in this manner from the bottom up and GPAL will become more and more known throughout the Armed Forces.”
Implementing in a large organisation: It starts with trainers and designers
In addition to the use of GPAL in the learning lines themselves, GPAL is one of the standard supportive learning tools offered to students during training. This is a perfect example of how GPAL can be used and rolled out more systematically in a large organisation such as the Dutch Armed Forces. During the training, future trainers, developers, designers and supervisors are already warmed up to GPAL and are shown the added value. After their training at ECOD, these students can choose for themselves which form of education best suits the learning needs of their organisation. GPAL is now one of the standard toolings that these trainers and lesson designers will soon be able to use. In this way, GPAL is becoming increasingly familiar within the various training programmes of various defence units.
“We really want the demand for GPAL to come from lower levels in the organization. Soon the trainers and designers/developers will work together and see where GPAL can add something to the training.”
Practice what you preach
Within ECOD, GPAL is used in all learning lines. In learning line 1 and 2, where instructors and mentors are trained, GPAL is used to quickly convey general teaching material and educational ideas to the target group via clear instruction videos. GPAL is not explicitly used in the lessons, but it turns out to be a perfect tool to support students in refreshing their knowledge. Furthermore, students already get to know GPAL and, because of the GPAL app, they can still review much of the material once they are at work in their own defence unit.
“The use of GPAL is not an obligation when developing training, but we do try to introduce people to the possibility. We see a lot of potential in it and that’s why we did put it in all the learning lines.”
GPAL is also used in learning line 3. Leo, who works in learning line 3, explains that the ECOD offers a diversity of toolings that students can later use in writing and designing courses in their own defence unit. This diversity is also necessary. Afterall, no two defence units are the same and the learning and qualification needs of education are understandably very different in the navy or in the air force. Future education designers must be able to anticipate these needs and apply an appropriate form of education.
One of the toolings that is used for almost every education is the script editor, an online support system in which lessons can be planned. Because the script editor is essential for most courses, the ECOD has made short videos to explain elements of the script editor to the students more clearly on video. Since the GPAL mobile App is easily accessible on a mobile phone, they can watch the videos at any chosen moment and also ask questions to each other via chat.
“We have made short video instructions of the script editor, so that students can really get a better grip on it. Through the videos, we can better support students during the training, but also show them all the different possibilities in designing and developing training.”
GPAL relates to vocational education
When creating training courses, the qualification requirement is always central. After all, a training course must prepare a soldier for his job and provide him with new skills and abilities. This must also be taken into account when creating and writing training programmes. Corne explains that, in recent years, there has been a change in how the Armed Forces want students to learn. The vision of the ECOD has therefore shifted more towards vocational education. In training, Defence wants to have employees learn as quickly as possible within the context of the workplace so that there can be a warm transition to the operational unit. GPAL is a good fit for this and can offer the right support during the training, but also afterwards.
“When I think of vocational education, I really think of a dual process; alternating classroom learning with workplace learning. An instructor then becomes more of a coach or supervisor and the students become more independent. Because of the independent learning, the making of assignments and the support of videos, GPAL is a perfect fit for vocational education. It is really in line with the principle of information just in time and just enough.”