About the Defence Academy
The Defence Academy, in common with the majority of the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), makes extensive use of the Defence Learning Environment (DLE). The DLE is a shared environment used by various departments within the MoD, supporting over 300,000 learners within the UK’s military and civil service.
The DLE is a learning environment that consists of Moodle (the learning interface), a Content Management System (CMS), a Learning Records System (LRS) and a Learner Content Store.
When reviewing content as part of a strategic consultancy with the Defence Academy, it became clear that the content contained within Intermediate Leadership, a mid-level leadership curriculum, could be of benefit to a wider audience of learners within the DLE network.
Additionally, it was felt that the quality of the content could be improved by making it more concise and focused on learner intent. This would in turn allow the face-to-face and instructor-led elements of the learning blend to be more effective.
At the time, content was locked away and ‘pushed’ out to learners through enrollments on a structured learning program. What was needed was open, searchable content that could be ‘pulled’ by learners in their moment of need.
This project has certainly opened my eyes to the benefits of and potential for eLearning, especially after so many years of clicking through a SCORM course to get to the quiz and be able to access the certificate.
– Lieutenant Commander Chris Taylor
LEO started by conducting a content review with the Defence Academy, with the goal of refining content to be best-in-class. This required identifying:
- Content that was still relevant
- Outdated content
- Duplicated content
- Content where the key message was relevant but needed reformatting
The content was then assigned to categories, with the metadata options enhanced to allow greater tagging and keyphrases to be assigned to individual course elements. This allows learners to search for key terms, with results that display additional word clouds, with direct links to related resources, to encourage learners to explore further.
This functionality also allows administrators to curate content to match learner needs. Themes such as “Leadership and Management” and “Maritime studies” are now readily available, all based on grouping together existing content.
Course content that had been identified as inaccessible due to length or format has also been broken into smaller chunks. For example, some videos that were ‘locked’ within 60-minute eLearning modules are now available as five-minute standalone videos. This helps to deliver more effective, focused learning blends that suit specific learner needs.
This breakdown of content also supports the practice of microlearning, offering an efficient way to breathe new life into existing content while enabling ‘on-demand’ learning.
If the trial (with the Royal Navy) was successful, it would open the possibility of applying a scalable solution to other courses, content and ‘schools’ within the wider DLE network. There would need to be data-led analysis to inform this decision.
I would like to thank the team for a well-run project that enthused and made exceptional progress in a very short timeframe. Your flexibility and positive attitude, even in the face of changing requirements and uncertainty from the customer (sorry!) were exemplary.
– Lieutenant Commander Chris Taylor
‘The Bridge’ has launched as a new learning facility with a revitalized look and feel, delivering the ‘best-in-class’ experience the Defence Academy had envisioned.
Learners can now easily search and filter content that was previously ‘locked away’, finding the information they need, when they need it. Search results encourage learners to explore additional content, while small details such as displaying video length encourage click-through rates and engagement.
All of these factors align with how learners naturally search and consume information, offering a cohesive central resource with a professional appearance.
The metadata associated with course content allows for more granular assessments and data-led analytics which will be used to gauge success and continuously improve the quality of the content provided. As the DLE is an open-source, secure, and constantly evolving environment, if ‘The Bridge’ proves to be successful, there’s scope to scale this solution and revolutionize the MoD’s approach to learning content.