EDMOND, Okla., (Dec. 18, 2015) — How do you picture a drill sergeant? As a stern, totalitarian figure; barking out orders with an unintelligible loud snarl, ready to pounce on your every misstep?
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – Just as the U.S. Army continues to adjust to face the changing realities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is adjusting its approach to education in order to better face the emerging challenges of the 21st century.
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 8, 2015) — Army educators are collaborating with scores of colleges and universities to chart the parameters for the new Army University, or ArmyU.
“We have the vision, direction and charter,” for ArmyU, but not all the specifics, said Brig. Gen. John S. Kem, provost for the new institution. He asked faculty and staff from 80 colleges and universities to “help figure out” those specifics during a symposium on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Dec. 2 – 3.
The university will be an “umbrella” organization with several overarching goals, Kem said. First and foremost is its purpose to improve the quality of Army education.
ArmyU will also focus on providing college credit and credentialing to Soldiers for their military education and experience. It’s one of the big things the university is working on early, explained one of its staff members. It’s reaching out to academia to help standardize credentialing.
The university may also be a “clearinghouse” for graduate-level research about the Army, Kem said.
In addition, it may reach out to universities and ask them to help fill Army “educational gaps,” he said, indicating that distance learning could play a major role in bridging those gaps.
“As a nascent university, we have some big holes,” said Col. Steve Delvaux, vice provost for academic affairs at ArmyU. Until August, the institution had no staff. Some departments are still only one person deep.
Delvaux suggested that some civilian professors might want to participate in a university exchange program or take a sabbatical to help ArmyU stand up its registrar or establish initiatives.
Standing up graduate-level programs for specific career fields like cyber would take the Army years to do on its own, Kem said. He suggested that the Army might take advantage of programs already out there in academia.
One school that is already helping the Army fill some academic gaps is East Carolina University, or ECU, which provides 11 online classes to Army civilians involved in various aspects of education from instructional design and technology, to adult education.
“I think technology is really coming a long way, especially in our online sites,” said ECU’s Dr. Steven Schmidt, one of the presenters at the symposium.
“In the past we may have had a chat session where people log on and talk to each other via texting,” Schmidt said. “Now we can do it with things like Google Hangout and we have programs that allow us to see each other face-to-face on the computer and talk to each other.”
Those who take the ECU classes not only learn from the curriculum, Schmidt said, they also learn from example about how to teach online.
“They may be very familiar with teaching in a traditional classroom,” Schmidt said about the Army civilians, “but teaching online or teaching in blended learning situations may be fairly new to them.”
“There are several other initiatives out there,” Delvaux said. He cited The Great Plains initiative as an example of good collaboration. The Great Plains initiative is a consortium of colleges that have relatively the same fees and accept each other’s courses toward degrees.
“So a person could take a course from the University of Nebraska, one from Kansas State and one from the other schools and colleges that participate…and in the end get the degree.”
“We’re kind of thinking along the same lines with Army University on how we establish our degree programs,” Delvaux said. Soldiers who take courses at various Army schools – and even some at collaborating state or private universities – might someday be able to put them all together for a degree, he explained.
“A lot of it is focused on our NCO [noncommissioned officer] and enlisted corps, because that’s where we think the biggest bang for the buck is,” he said.
Delvaux said approximately 80 percent of the Army is enlisted, and the enlisted force is also the most underserved when it comes to higher education.
“Only 13 percent of the population eligible for tuition assistance is actually taking advantage of the benefit,” Delvaux said.
“There’s a lot of money out there. We have these programs; we have the GI Bill; we have tuition assistance where they can reach out and take advantage of those courses you are offering either on base, at your local colleges or through distance learning, that we would like to leverage,” he told the professors at the symposium.
“So we’d like to set up these degree programs, again where you recognize Army schools and their experience, and then they take your courses to fill in the gaps of what they’re missing. At the end of the day, they get that broad-based liberal-arts education.
“We think that makes a better force,” Delvaux said.
CREDIT FOR LEADERSHIP
The Army’s schools are collaborating more, he said. Voluntary education is being “married up” with professional military schools. Next, ArmyU would like to work in partnerships with state and private schools, he said.
“A lot of the engineer, the logistics, the technical skills, those easily translate and you understand those,” Delvaux said. “But you don’t necessarily understand what an infantryman does, or what an armor [troop] or tanker does, or field artilleryman does, and it doesn’t translate as easily into civilian skills.”
By the time infantrymen have 10 to 12 years of service, they’ve been to the Basic Leader Course, the Advanced Leader Course and the Senior Leader Course. They’ve probably also spent five or six years in leadership positions such team leader, squad leader and platoon sergeant, Delvaux said.
“Are you recognizing that leadership experience – that management, those skills that they have? Giving them credit for prior learning? So that’s what we’re looking at when we’re developing these degree programs with you all,” he said.
“Part of our Army University challenge is how do you increase the partnerships, expand the opportunities, work credentialing differently, re-credit programs differently, and ultimately improve our military education,” Kem said. “There is no one single solution.”
Photo credit: Brig. Gen. John S. Kem, provost for Army University, speaks about the potential for collaboration to more than 200 educators from colleges, universities and military institutions during a symposium Dec. 3 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Steven Miller)
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — The Army University hosted an education symposium here Dec. 2 and 3, which brought together academic leaders from civilian universities and across the Army to explore ways to improve the educational experience for Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians.
More than 200 people attended from 31 military organizations and 80 civilian colleges and universities with panel discussions covering topics including innovative learning environments, developing world-class faculty, and building a collaborative exchange.
The symposium was one of the first steps in the establishment of the Army University, which is the Army’s initiative to better structure the variety of educational opportunities available to service members and DA civilians.
“This is the most fundamental change in Army education since 1881,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center, to symposium attendees during the opening session. Brown also serves as the executive vice chancellor for training and education for the Army University.
Brown told the attendees that the Army trains Soldiers very well, but that there is a difference between training and education. The current transformation in Army education seeks to develop greater critical and creative thinking skills in every soldier and Army civilian.
“It’s about partnering with the greatest university system in the world [the United States’ higher education system],” said Brig. Gen. John Kem, Army University provost.
In a panel discussion, Brown explained that the Army has shifted its command focus from one of command and control to mission command, which empowers leaders at the lowest levels. This change in approach drives the need for Soldiers and civilians at all levels of the Army to be not just trained, but educated.
This mindset allows for an “increased rate of innovation,” Brown said.
Another education conference, planned for June 2016, will expand on the ideas and concepts introduced at this week’s symposium.
Photo credit: Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and vice chancellor of Army University, opens the 2015 Education Symposium at Fort Leavenworth. The Symposium brought together educators from throughout the Army and more than 80 civilian colleges and universities to explore how Army University can improve education for Soldiers and Army civilians. (U.S. Army photo by Dan Neal)
The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFC) provides culturally based foreign language education, training, evaluation and sustainment to enhance the security of the nation. DLIFLC, the Department of Defense’s premier foreign language provider, is regarded as one of the finest schools for foreign language instruction in the world.
The Army University encompasses all U.S. Army Training and Command schools, provides the force with a single point of contact for all Army education matters and addresses the educational needs of the Army while providing individual Soldiers and civilians the opportunity to accomplish their own respective academic goals.
Photo credit: Soldiers listen to speakers during the opening ceremony of the EFMB Competition at COL Victory on Joint Base MDL, NJ. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Lebaron Gordon)