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JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. - Training and Education Analyst for Headquarters U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Diane C. Williams, has supported management of the TRADOC Instructor of the Year (IOY) Program since its inception in 1988.

The competition recognizes TRADOC instructors for their presentation quality in skills and knowledge. These instructors, facilitators and educators compete from all Army components, and winners are selected from seven categories, including: Educator of the Year (total Army), Active Duty Officer, Active Duty Non-Commissioned Officer, Active Duty Warrant Officer, Army Civilian, Reserve and National Guard.

Williams said she has seen the quality of application packets improve each year, which she attributes to the IOY team’s success making award submissions and access to materials easy. The reason for this success is largely to do with its Army Knowledge Online (AKO) Community.

“I have watched the IOY Program process evolve from an antiquated one of Centers and Schools submitting VHS tapes through the mail system, to now utilizing online capabilities for a more effective and efficient process,” said Williams. “For example, now COE’s/Schools submit videos in a .wmv format for more efficient handling, and to upload to our AKO Community quick and easy.”

Several years ago, Williams said the decision was made to utilize AKO for its Knowledge Management tool to keep IOY materials organized and secure.

“It helps that AKO can handle large and small size materials for real-time review or to store them in one location for quick and easy sharing,” said Williams. “[Today] the IOY team uses AKO to manage our materials, give our judges’ one-stop access to review and evaluate application packets, and for its capacity to upload videos easily.”

As any good consumer does, Williams has always kept a sharp eye on what is truly a wide range of alternative Army and DoD web resources. In fact, when the AKO Classic portal sunset in September 2019, she says her team took a hard look at Blackboard and milSuite.

“After some research and comparing documents and video size capacities, the team decided to stay with AKO,” said Williams. “Although we experienced some hiccups when setting up our complex ‘closed’ IOY Community, the general familiarity with AKO and its ability to accommodate the already established video size requirement as part of our candidates’ packets were reasons to continue using AKO. These reasons were very important to us, to ensure we stayed on track with our established submissions, selections and the announcement of winners timeline.”

Williams also pointed out that the AKO Training Support team was very supportive in helping the IOY team meet one of its recent challenges head on.

“The most critical challenge was to set up a closed community from scratch. One of the IOY team’s goals was to set up a ‘semi-closed’ community with open and closed access by subgroups,” said Williams. “We needed this community set up in time for our judges’ application evaluation phase. Had this not happened in time, we would have been scrambling to find a viable solution, which could have impacted our timeline. It required some planning and teamwork with the AKO Training Support team to meet this goal, but ultimately the judges were able to go to the community and evaluate applicants’ packets within the designated time frame.”

The 2020 TRADOC Instructor of the Year Awards ceremony is scheduled to be held in August.

For information on how to create your own AKO Community, visit: https://www.us.army.mil/content/armyako/en/community-site-request.html.