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Rules of Engagement: Fostering Active Learning for Performance Improvement

By Jo Macdonald


The new millennium has seen significant changes in the operational environment and in the nature of the enemy. Training must likewise change to prepare our military to meet the challenges associated with this new paradigm. One of the current Department of Defense initiatives in education and training is the move to convert instructor-led courses to distributed learning. However, creating distributed learning involves more than the mere migration of content to online delivery. Effective distributed learning engages learners through study and investigation within authentic contexts; it encourages the growth of learner responsibility, initiative, decision making, and intentional learning. This is active learning, which has its roots in constructivist theory. This paper discusses what makes learning active and provides strategies for fostering active learning in an asynchronous distributed learning situation. These strategies, based on research and the author's own considerable experience in designing online instruction, provide for individual and collaborative engagement while the learner practices the skills needed to develop expertise in solving problems and in performing tasks in the learning domain. They also include strategies for learner support and feedback to ensure that the active learning process results in appropriate and accurate knowledge construction for performance in the operational environment—in air, on land, and at sea. Integrating active learning facilitated by collaborative interactions and expert guidance will result in curriculum that promotes individual development as well as teamwork, providing the unique cognitive skills necessary to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing and increasingly complex joint operational environment. It is a strategic approach to education and training that will enable the military to realize the goal of One Team, One Fight, One Trainin

Year: 2008
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