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More than 165,000 sailors sign up for online learning.

At most recent count, more than 165,000 sailors have registered in Navy Knowledge Online--an educational Web site that is available through the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, according to Myles Weber, NKO program manager for Appian Corporation.

Appian, of Vienna, Va., in July 2002 won a one-year, $5 million contract to build and manage NKO for the Naval Educational and Training Command, he said. The command oversees training and educational opportunities for 350,000 sailors.

In September of this year, the company won a second one-year bid, worth $11.9 million, to upgrade the portal. Under the contract, Appian will install the latest version of its collaborative intranet software, Appian Enterprise v.3.0, explained company spokesperson Kathleen O'Neil.

The new software will make it easier for users to organize themselves into something called "communities of practice," Weber told National Defense. These are interactive, collaborative communities, operating via NMCI and dedicated to common concerns, problems or missions, he explained.

The improved software will enable every command, group and individual to create and share community portal pages with whomever they like, based on individual or group profiles.

As part of the new contract, Appian also will develop and deploy a classified version of NKO, for use on Secure Internet Protocol Network, known as SIPRNET, Weber said. This, he explained, will enable naval communities that perform work of a classified nature, such as the Submarine Learning Center, the Center for Naval Intelligence and the Center for Naval Cryptology, to take advantage of NKO.

A lightweight version of NKO is being developed for ships. A pilot program, operating without requiring Internet access, was launched this summer, in cooperation with the Naval Sea Systems Command's distance-support testing.

NKO will become available to Marines as their units gain access to NMCI, Weber said. Department of the Navy civilians and retirees also will be able to use it, he said.

The Navy portal is similar to Army Knowledge Online, also built by Appian. Nearly 1.3 million Army personnel use AKO to keep up with service news, distance-learning opportunities, e-mail, and chat-room activities.
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Author:Kennedy, Harold
Publication:National Defense
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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