By Mr. Mike Casey (CAC-T) and Ms. Rachael Tolliver (Cadet Command)November 14, 2013
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - Thanks to a cooperative program between two Army organizations, ROTC cadets are using electronic, interactive textbooks this school year.
Cadet Command and TRADOC Capability Manager for The Army Distributed Learning Program (TCM TADLP) worked together on the project to replace ROTC textbooks with E-books. The program saves money, updates books more quickly and benefits Cadets' education. The material is available to download on to any reader or capable device.
"I love it," said Cadet Jason Sadowski, an MS 3 at Iowa State University. "It gets me the information that I want when I need it." Sadowski of Manitowoc, Wis., accesses his ROTC textbooks through his tablet.
The electronic textbook effort started in 2010 after TCM TADLP reviewed the potential for using E-books. Partnering with Cadet Command offered some special advantages because ROTC does not require students to use a common access card.
"The ROTC learning management system is on the .com rather than the .mil," said Dr. Peggy Kenyon, an office chief at TCM TADLP. "This allowed us to think outside the box when it came to exploring the use of social media."
Kenyon said the team wanted to expand the program's potential beyond converting textbooks into PDF files.
"E-books are more than a static replication of the textbooks. They are engaging and interactive in terms of embedded multimedia such as video, audio and animations," she said. "They allow students to highlight and make notes, and to even save the notes and share them across social media."
Sadowski said he particularly liked the ability to highlight and make notes on his textbook.
Dr. Richard Swain, the dean of academics in Cadet Command's curriculum development division, said the E-books provide Cadets with opportunities to improve their research and critical thinking skills.
"We want to keep the good parts of the reading and give the student a little bit more of an enhanced experience," he said. "If you want to go deeper, you can do that on your own. For example, with MacArthur's speech you can click on a link and hear the speech, or go check out a point on the Internet."
Besides benefiting students, the program saves the Army money. "By going to electronic textbooks we will save $3 million to $4 million by 2017," Swain said.
Using E-books also makes it easier to update content without the expense of printing a new book. "We have had dramatic changes in Army doctrine and publications because of the wars and, as a result, it was important to have another means to get current information to the Cadets as soon as possible," he said.
Kenyon said her organization is exploring the possibility of using the ROTC program as a model for Army schools by repurposing the government-owned source code.
"The ROTC E-book program shows how the Army can leverage technology to provide students with the knowledge to become tomorrow's future agile, adaptive leaders," she said.
Cadet Command, Fort Knox., Ky., selects, educates, trains and commissions college students to be officers and leaders of character in the Total Army; instills the values of citizenship, national and community service, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment in high school students.
TCM TADLP located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., is part of the Army Training Support Center, which is a subordinate organization of the Combined Arms Center -- Training (CAC-T), Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
CAC-T manages Army training support and training development, and provides training and leader development programs and products to support Army readiness. Its web site is: http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/CAC-T/. Follow CAC-T on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usacactraining Follow CAC-T on Twitter at: @usacactraining.