As many as 200 military delegates and civilian experts from across Canada, the United States and Britain are meeting at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown this week to share information and strategy regarding e-learning. 

With the World Wide Web bringing various countries’ communities closer and closer, representatives from participating countries are using the occasion to further define ways lessons learned in the classroom and on the battlefield can be applied to their respective organizations. 

Col. Mike Ward, commander of the Combat Training Centre and the man responsible for overseeing the training of this country’s combat leaders, says he wants his various instructors to be aware of the power of e-learning and add it to the tools already at their disposal. 

“(Various e-learning tools) will allow us to play large-scale war games and represent what we think the battlefield will be like and challenge our commanders to operate effectively in that environment,” Ward said. 

By the end of the symposium, which wraps up today, Ward said he expects his staff will have a better understanding of how such training can make better soldiers. 

“At the rate the army is modernizing, and with the new demands that are being placed on us in terms of high-tech weapons systems, high-tech command and communications systems, we really have to have up- to-date, state-of-the-art training tools,” Ward said. 

“The old model of face-to-face, instructor-led classroom training still offers us a lot but it’s not the only method that we need to exploit.”

The power of technology allows combat instructors to relay specifics in a much better way, he said.

Capt. Jeremy MacDonald, of the Training Development Cell at CTC Gagetown, said the gathering would set the stage for a future vision, on distributed learning in the Canadian Armed Forces.

“The intent here is to review some of the lessons learned from the American, the British (and Australian) armies and put them to our use, so we can get a direction as to how we are going to deliver training over the next 10 to 15 years,” MacDonald said.

The initiative is much more than just Web-based training, as it incorporates several multimedia elements such as CD-ROM, video and programs of simulation, MacDonald said. It all will contribute to a common-goal of standardizing training, he said.

Lt.-Col. Deborah J ones- Harris of Fort Monroe, Va., the officer responsible for the U.S. army’s distributive learning program, said her country has a much larger program than Canada’s and, therefore, has much information to share, such as how fast to proceed.

E-learning has proven to be an effective tool for the U.S. military, Jones-Harris said. 

“The number of deployments have increased significantly over the years,” she said. “We have to be able to provide the training to our. soldiers, no matter where they are. The mission of the distributed learning program is to be able to provide individual and collective training to the soldiers.”

Canadian military officials hope to use the symposium as a means of developing a final report that will lead to a “further coalescence” for the army and combat training e-learning policies.

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