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New LMS will boost USAICoE capabilities: LIO to deploy Moodle.

The U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE) at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, will soon have the capability to provide all of its students a 21st century educational experience-a blended approach to learning, using the recently acquired learning management system (LMS).

Responding to the All Army Activities (ALARACT) 231-2010, USAICoE has selected Moodle[TM] as its new LMS. ALARACT 231-2010 requires the migration of all existing courseware to one of the approved LMSs within the Army Learning and Content Management Capability (ALCMC).

Crawford Scott is the Information Technology Architect for USAICoE's Learning Innovation Office (LIO), the organization tasked with providing a learning management solution for the MI community. "To comply with the ALARACT, LIO migrated courseware housed on the University of Military Intelligence's (UMI) TotalLMS to the U.S. Army Learning Management System (Saba) and Blackboard," he said. "USAICoE will use Moodle to complement and not replace ALCMC."

"Moodle (or Modular Object-oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) will ultimately increase our capabilities and it will serve as a nice complement to the other LMSs out there. It will allow us to reach students who only have Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET) access." He elaborated that Moodle provides USAICoE with a customizable, cost effective LMS solution on SIPRNET as well as the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS).

"I'm encouraged with Moodle because it has a user-friendly interface and will allow the organization to build out any additional functionality needed by the schoolhouse in the future." He stated that Moodle not only provides a SIPRNET solution, but also offers Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNET) benefits. "On the NIPR side, we can use Moodle for USAICoE specific courseware and in-house production of Mi-specific courseware in a blended and dL configuration."

In addition to Moodle, LIO also analyzed the cost, usability, stability, scalability and customization, as well as the support and resources of TotalLMS and OLAT. "TotalLMS, our existing LMS used on NIPR for UMI, is overly complicated. It's basically too much LMS for what we need-it does too many things that we don't need and not enough of the things that we do." It also lacks a reporting capability needed to capture metrics on student usage, success, and progress.

Scott stated that while OLAT is a fine LMS, it's only been deployed in smaller organizations and it's not as refined as Moodle. "The available resources for OLAT support, configuration, and enhancement are not as extensive as Moodle. Conversely, Moodle boasts an entire group of worldwide partners working together to enhance and deploy it."

Moodle has been deployed in smaller environments and larger institutions as well. An added benefit is Moodle's paid for and free services, which will allow LIO to configure, extend, and support it. "Ultimately, of the three solutions under consideration, Moodle provides USAICoE with the best overall solution, given the constraints we had to work within," Scott concluded.

LIO Director Leanne Rutherford agreed that Moodle is the right solution for USAICoE. She said that the task of identifying a suitable LMS solution was a major undertaking for the organization. "Trying to manage the ALARACT while satisfying the school's requirement for three domains (NIPR, SIPR, and JWICS) and transitioning material from UMI, wasn't an easy feat," Rutherford said.

Scott added that deploying the new LMS presented its own challenges due to the need for a certificate of networthiness (CoN). Last year, LIO requested a CoN for Moodle from the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command. The organization received the CoN in March. 'The configuration of the environments was also a bit of a challenge at first," he said.

Despite the obstacles that had to be overcome, Rutherford expressed her satisfaction with the outcome of the LMS project. "I'm excited because our biggest problem has been facilitated learning in the classroom, and Moodle will now act as an enabler," she added. Although Rutherford is excited about the use of Moodle, she cautions that it is not the end all, be all. "Moodle has a very particular purpose-its purpose is to be used in the classroom as a blended approach to learning," she said.

According to Rutherford, USACoE's use of Moodle also has the potential to have a large impact on the entire Army.

LIO will implement Moodle alongside TotalLMS to allow currently enrolled students the opportunity to complete their work and transition to the new LMS. The NIPR instance of Moodle is projected to become operational during the 4th quarter 2012, and the SIPR version is expected to be deployed shortly thereafter. Unlike the NIPR version, SIPR and JWICS will require new production environments.

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Once in place, students will create new accounts on the SIPR UMI website. Access to the SIPR UMI will be made available through the Intelligence Knowledge Network-Secret (IKN) (S) web portal.

All current courses on the NIPR instance of UMI will be offered on the SIPR and JWICS versions. Technical concerns will be dealt with by the LIO LMS Team. For more information on Moodle, contact Scott at (520)538-7360 or crawford.g.scott.ctr@mail.mil.

Ms. Albrecht is the Senior Technical Editor/Writer for the Learning Innovation Office, Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
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Author:Albrecht, Regina S.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Apr 1, 2012
Words:858
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