FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The Soldier Support Institute recently received the Pike's Peak Performance Award following a remodeling of the school's Advanced Leaders Course and Senior Leaders Course.

The award was issued by the Bob Pike Group, an organization that provides training for trainers, as well as consulting services to individuals and corporations. SSI revamped its leadership courses using many of Pike's instructional methods, said L.Z. Harrison, supervisory instructional systems specialist for SSI. Neither course was "hands on," he said, nor considered within the Army's established learning models.

"We created a learner-centered environment, which moved the onus of instruction from the instructor to the students," he said.

The SSI team made changes to more than 600 hours of instruction between the two courses, which were redesigned to use the latest principles, techniques, and procedures to ensure that Noncommissioned Officer Education System training was keeping it REAL, an anagram that stands for:

-- Relevant, through a continuous adaptive learning model;

-- Engaging adult-learning, experiential learning opportunities, that creates;

-- Adaptive Leaders who possess 21st century Soldier competencies;

-- Learner-centric context-based, facilitated problem-solving environment.

The educational outcomes of the courses needed refocusing to ensure alignment with 21st century Soldier competencies and the Human Resources core competencies found in Army doctrine.

"We redesigned the classroom from a linear classroom into what we call a 'pod format,' which is four groups of four students that work in small groups," Harrison said. "The bulk of their instruction is dealing with their educational experience and learning how to apply it."

Instructors also took advantage of blended learning opportunities that existed between classroom instruction and technology-based instruction. Students now can prepare for attendance by using mobile applications, which can be downloaded to smart devices and home computers, giving them immediate access to the course materials.

The use of PowerPoint slides was reduced by 50 percent through the leveraging of participant-centered learning activities that reinforced the teaching points throughout the curriculum, Harrison said.

The Pike's Peak Performance Award is a formal recognition of trainers and organizations for their implementation of participant-centered training that improves performance. Award winners are nominated by colleagues, learning professionals and Bob Pike Group Trainer Consultants.