By Argie Sarantinos-Perrin, PEO C3T MilTech SolutionsMay 7, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 7, 2013) -- A new learning portal provides enhanced training and access to Department of Defense professional networking tools.
Developed by the Army's Military Technical (MilTech) Solutions Office, milUniversity bridges the gap between how people prefer to learn -- those who enjoy attending training classes, but may have questions afterward, and those who prefer to learn at their own pace by reading text and viewing videos.
"At the end of the day, people want to learn how to use each of these tools to make their jobs easier and better," said Claudia DeCarlo, deputy director of MilTech, which is assigned to the Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical.
Within the first 10 days of its release, 1,000 unique visitors had logged onto milUniversity.
The portal is hosted on milSuite, a group of secure, professional social media tools. MilSuite is issued throughout the DOD community to collaborate and build awareness on projects, policies and other initiatives. It is available to most DOD employees with Common Access Card authentication.
Bill Gledhill, a human resource specialist in the Army Civilian Personnel Advisory Center at the Presidio of Monterey, Ca., uses SharePoint and Defense Connect Online (DCO) to communicate and train employees at satellite locations around the world. When Gledhill has questions about SharePoint and DCO, project management and web-conferencing tools, he uses MilUniversity to find answers.
"Through milUniversity, I have learned that there are many more features of DCO and SharePoint than I was even aware of," he said. "These two programs were my incentive to go to milUniversity for information and help that enables me to communicate better."
MilUniversity's homepage design mimics the layout of applications on a smart phone. Each icon on the first row links to the procedures for frequently-used tools in the DOD. These tools include Microsoft SharePoint, a project management tool with an estimated 800,000 Army users; Green Force Tracker, an instant messaging system that has nearly 15,000 active Army users; and DCO, a web-conferencing tool with 862,000 registered users.
Other icons link to the four milSuite tools, which include milWiki, a living military encyclopedia; milBook, a professional networking tool; milWire, a micro-blogging application for sharing content across milSuite and external sites; and milTube, a video-sharing platform. MilSuite's community currently includes more than 300,000 users.
Since milUniversity supports the idea that people learn differently, there are downloadable reference guides, text and video tutorials available for all the tools. The portal also features three curriculum levels -- 100 (getting started), 200 (intermediate) and 300 (advanced) -- so users can find the right fit for their level of expertise.
"The beauty of the different levels is two-fold," said Tracey Schreiner, a MilTech training team representative. "Someone can say to a new employee, 'this is what we think you should know to be the most efficient, effective member of this organization' because the idea is that the tools on milUniversity are meant to make us more efficient in what we do. Or an organization can use the different levels to pick and choose procedures to build their own courses for each tool."
By using milUniversity to build courses, travel to traditional training classes could also eventually be reduced.
"I believe the early embrace by the community is a confirmation of the need that existed for this brand of online, self-help, user education and highlights the willingness of individuals to seek help," said Jason Bock, a milSuite team representative.
The portal will continue to grow, supporting the idea that learning is an ongoing process, as more video tutorials and procedures are added to round out the three curriculum levels. Other upcoming changes include: updated information on other tools; displaying recent content and what's new on the homepage; and offering a more visible way for users to give feedback.
"MilUniversity is not only about building a SharePoint site for your organization; it's having the employees understand how they can use that tool in their day-to-day jobs," DeCarlo said.