New multimedia center offers an integrated approach to developing instruction
A merger of funding, knowledge and innovation will soon equate to big savings for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence which is weeks away from opening its state-of-the-art collaboration laboratory
With the multipurpose facility, USAICoE organizations will have access to instructional design expertise, the most cutting edge software and development tools and knowledge as well as freedom to develop courseware in a closed network.
“The ‘COLAB’ as we call it, provides a critical facilitation capability where our designers, developers and instructors can work as a team or separately to create effective learning outcomes,” stated Col. Jeff Jennings, deputy commander for training, USAICoE.
“It offers not only cutting-edge technology, but also an environment where our educators can envision a desired learning outcome and with onsite expertise, can realize that vision,” he added.
The new facility is located in Room 1090 of Riley Barracks, adjacent to USAICoE’s Learning Innovation Office. LIO, the school’s in-house capability to develop and maintain courseware, will provide technical support to organizations using the lab.
“This investment proves once again ICoE believes in the general tenets of the Army Learning Model and is taking another step toward transformation of the schoolhouse,” stated Leanne Rutherford, LIO director.
“With the command’s commitment to an adaptive learning model, we will continue to lead the way for innovative training and education of MI (military intelligence) Soldiers,” she added.
Rutherford offered some insight into how the idea for the COLAB was initially generated.
“Last year, LIO identified the requirement for additional space to conduct alpha and beta testing and develop on a classified network (secure internet protocol router network),” she said. “This spawned the idea of establishing a facility to support all organizations’ needs to design, build and test highly interactive and educationally sound products in a collaborative, secure work environment.”
Crawford Scott, information technology architect for LIO, explained how the centralized development area will offer USAICoE a more cost-effective alternative for meeting ALM requirements.
“Organizations and courses do not require daily, local access to software and development tools,” he said. “Consolidating the equipment, software and expertise to a single location will ultimately save USAICoE a lot of money.”
According to Scott, the lab will also fully support a tiger-team approach to development for rapid production of training products.
“The COLAB is further evolving the school’s capability to develop and deliver interactive multimedia instruction to the new millennium Soldier in a timely manner,” Scott said. “It is a perfect catalyst for successful implementation of ALM.”
Scott jointly designed and built the lab with Matt Covel, G6 projects manager.
USAICoE’s new multipurpose facility consists of a test and development room, audio booth and video recording studio.
The lab’s test and development room is designed to facilitate collaboration for small and large groups.
Scott provided a technical overview of the new area.
Considered the heart of the facility, he said the center features a 10 ft. diameter round table with a Crestron panel that controls the entire room.
“The table is equipped with both non-secure internet protocol router access and LIO closed network capabilities,” Scott said. “Networks can be accessed via ports that are built into the table.”
Two grouping of six desks or pods are located on the left side of the table. Each desk is equipped with three computers connected to available networks (NIPR, SIPR and LIO development).
“Monitors are attached to desks with adjustable arms that allow users to stow displays not in use,” he said. “For collaboration purposes, one large monitor is mounted to the wall at the end of each pod.”
Scott explained that an additional pod and media:scape collaboration table is located to the right of the main table.
“The media:scape station comprises four laptop computer ports that enable users to work together and share ideas through two 24-inch monitors mounted at the foot of the table,” he said.
The COLAB is equipped with various types of software and game and web development tools. Among them are Adobe Creative Suite 6.0 and Captivate 6.0, Unity Game Development Kit and Microsoft Visual Studio 10.
Although much attention is being given to the test and development room and its collaborative features, Scott stated the facility’s audio booth and video recording studio are equally impressive.
The audio booth comprises a soundproof isolation area as well as professional grade recording and editing equipment. A window and intercom system facilitate communication between the audio and video recording areas.
The video recording studio features soundproofing on the inner walls and a green screen background. It is also equipped with portable recording equipment that can be easily moved from the studio to the field.
Scott stated users may submit requests for services to LIO for audio and visual products.
“At this time, we’re not giving access to the audio booth and video recording studio,” he said. “Both have specialized equipment that require extensive training for use.”
While the audio and visual areas are staffed with a full-time developer, the collaboration room is not.
Scott stated the lab’s close proximity to the LIO instructional design and development teams will be beneficial as organizations and courses begin to collaborate and develop.
“We will be available if users require technical assistance,” he said.
To arrange use of the new facility, access USAICoE’s G3 scheduling system.