CSCS pursues new technology to develop sailor of 2025

Navy photograph by Zach Mott

Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW) Brandon Lemke demonstrates the fire-fighting virtual task trainer to Vice Adm. Herman A. Shelanski, center, Naval inspector general, during a tour of the Surface Warfare Officers School Unit Great Lakes courses. Shelanski toured both SWOSU and Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit Great Lakes facilities to receive an update on the progress of Ready, Relevant Learning at each site, respectively.

The Center for Surface Combat Systems is currently working with Surface Warfare Division (OPNAV N96) via the Surface and Expeditionary Warfare Training Committee on new training technology initiatives in support of the Ready Relevant Learning.

“We are in the process of enhancing the Tactical Operating Environment and Basic Acoustic Analyst Refresher courses of instruction,” explained Capt. Bill McKinley, CSCS commanding officer. “BAAR will utilize web-based applications, which will make training more effective and accessible, and improve quality of life as it precludes the need for Sailors to be away from their duty station. TACTOE will enable students to be trained at multiple shore sites in a common virtual environment. They will be able to interact virtually from an electronic classroom in each homeport which will not only save the Navy money by eliminating student travel cost, but will also assist with instructor utilization.”

CSCS International Programs conducted a comparative research study in 2015 by delivering the TACTOE Networking, CISCO, and UNIX course of instruction via a Virtual World Enterprise System distributed learning environment, while keeping the original course design. The purpose of the study was to determine the feasibility and training effectiveness of transitioning a COI from a traditional, face-to-face learning system to a technology-enabled distributed learning system that utilizes virtual and web-based applications.

“We analyzed instructional delivery methods, infrastructure requirements, student acceptance and performance while gathering quantitative and qualitative data from each teach (control and experimental),” explained Dr. Darrell Tatro, director of CSCS International Programs. “We found that students were able to learn in a virtual class setting, the virtual environment and tools were an effective platform, and students demonstrated motivation towards the technology itself.”

The study was also effective in identifying issues associated with the distributed learning environment that must be addressed and remedied in order to make TACTOE a successful candidate for the virtual web-enabled environment.

“A major roadblock we encountered was that the curriculum was designed for a traditional face-to-face classroom, not for a virtual environment,” Tatro said. “Therefore, we are in the process of restructuring the course. TACTOE will be redesigned to align technology with instructional goals to meet apprentice level requirements. Technology will be matched to meet specific learning objectives. Additionally, instructors will be selected and trained so they are both capable and confident to teach in the selected technologies.”

“As we redesign the course, a major goal is to make the required training exportable to our customer countries and increase course schedule flexibility by serving training needs where and when they are needed,” added Tatro. “Our goal is to have the pilot constructed before the end of the calendar year.”

Like TACTOE, the web-based BAAR course will leverage technology to create an advanced learning environment. Scheduled to be delivered in August 2017, BAAR will use gaming technology to engage students and enrich learning.

“BAAR will consist of a 3-D propulsion diagram with circle charts and a dynamic LOFARgram, a standard means of representing sonar signals in a combined time-frequency presentation, which will provide a visualization of the key components of acoustic analysis,” said Brian Deters, director of Technical Support. “The portability of BAAR allows hosting in multiple environments including traditional classrooms, shipboard, and classified laptops [and] tablets. Hence, BAAR will provide anytime, anywhere, self-paced training.”

BAAR’s primary training requirement is to ensure proficiency of trainees on sound source recognition via instruction and / or assessment. It will be used to instruct the first week of the traditional BAAR course asynchronously where trainees are currently on temporary assigned duty (TAD).

“The course will start with an initial assessment of a Sailor’s knowledge of basic acoustic analysis, which will then be utilized to determine the level of study required to proceed,” Deters explained. “Based on his or her knowledge, the initial assessment will allow a student to test out of some or all of week one course content. Students who do not test out will begin training in BAAR, where they will be required to complete the knowledge portions only for topics in which they did not sufficiently demonstrate mastery.”

Upon successful completion of the web-based BAAR course, Sailors will not only possess the tools to perform the steps of LOFAR analysis, but will be able to engage in gram analysis activities in week two as well.

“Technology’s role will continue to expand in the realm of Navy training,” McKinley said. “I truly believe that our initiatives, such as TACTOE and BAAR, are the future of surface combat systems training.”

CSCS’ mission is to develop and deliver surface ship combat systems training to achieve surface warfare superiority. CSCS headquarters’ staff oversees 14 learning sites and provides nearly 70,000 hours of curriculum for 700 courses a year to more than 40,000 sailors. CSCS delivers specialized training for officers and enlisted sailors required to tactically operate, maintain, and employ shipboard and shore-based weapons, sensors, and command and control systems utilized in today’s Navy.