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Personalized instruction matches sailors with jobs.

A new Navy system that relies on individualized training instead of rigid classroom instruction will produce better-qualified sailors more quickly, according to the admiral in charge of the program.

The revolution in training (RIT) replaces traditional rote classroom with the tailored training they need for their tasks-and then ensures that they are assigned to those positions for which they are best qualified.

"We are marching toward a solution that allows you to tailor a course depending on where that sailor is going in the Navy," said Rear Adm. Kevin Moran, head of Naval Personnel Development Command. The training anticipates "what platform they're going to serve on, and what they need to know to serve in that exact position."

A Navy fact sheet notes "historically, there has been no direct link between mission requirements of fleet units and the training sailors received." RIT addresses this problem by using human resources practices in the corporate sector.

The program relies on a computer model--essentially an online resume--that rates a sailor's career and qualifications as he advances through the recruit, apprentice, journeyman and master phases. It displays where a sailor stands in terms of professional development, personal development, professional military education and leadership, certifications and qualifications and performance. The model maps their career progress, and enables sailors to see how their qualifications stand in relation to promotion. Also shown on the graphic are the skills they need for various positions.

In turn, the model rests on a thorough mapping of all the ratings in the Navy. All enlisted ratings have been mapped except those in nuclear engineering and the health professions, which will soon be completed, said Moran. This allows sailors to see how their qualifications stand versus their colleagues in a particular rating.

To ensure that sailors are assigned to the positions they're best qualified for, the Navy is mapping every job in the fleet. The level of mapping is so fine that the system distinguishes between similar jobs on different ships. "It gets even more complicated because the equipment is different between ships," Moran noted. "A second-class electrician on DDG-51 is not the same as a second-class electrician on DDG-56. You need to understand the positions down to that level of granularity."

Training in common specialties is being consolidated. For example, instead of eight separate, engineer-rated "A" schools, surface engineers now attend a combined basic engineering common core. After the common basic course, they attend advanced schools depending on their initial duty assignment.

Moran sees RIT as a necessity in a Navy where new ships, such as the DDX and the littoral combat ship, would have razor-thin margins of manpower that leave no redundancy in the crew. "You can't have a sailor walk across the bow and then leave four months later to go to school," Moran added.

Tight space on ships requires sailors trained to fulfill multiple tasks. For example, an electrician's mate on one ship might be also required to serve as an investigator for a repair party on a similar vessel. That's why RIT is designed to measure a sailor's nonprofessional skills. In the past, a computer specialist would have filled an information technology job. But an electrician's mate might have acquired computer skills during his career, and pre-testing will document this proficiency and allow the sailor to be considered for the position.

RIT will also give sailors more control over their careers. The Generation Y population that Navy recruiters will target during the next five to 10 years "will demand upward mobility to match their ambition, and an environment where hand holding is not only unnecessary but considered a negative trait of an organization," said Moran. RIT will also help retention by giving sailors more flexibility to choose assignments. If a sailor wants to be stationed in Mayport, Fla., for example, he can go online to see what jobs are available and what skills he needs to qualify for them. "A sailor can query most of the positions in the Navy that they might fit," said Moran.

The technical backbone of RIT is the Navy Knowledge Online portal, where sailors can review their profiles. Almost two-thirds of active-duty sailors and nearly 90 percent of reservists are registered. Delivering online training will be conducted through the integrated learning environment (ILE). In addition to emphasizing on-line learning, ILE is spurring the transformation of Navy training materials into "reusable learning objects" that can be assembled into personalized instruction.

Moran recently visited a naval aviation facility in Florida, where he was shown a laptop computer with instructions on changing the flap on an EA-6B Prowler electronic jamming aircraft. In the past, changing the flap required wading through voluminous technical manuals, as well as moving the aircraft into a hangar where highly trained technical representatives could fix it. But the laptop displayed only those materials relevant to changing the flap, and did it through interactive features that graphically traced the flow of electricity through a Prowler's wiring system, and ended with a fiber-optic camera that wove through the aircraft while a technical expert explained how to change the flap. "I'm not kidding you," said Moran. "You and I could change the flap of an EA-6B using this tool."

While ILE will make much greater use of the Internet, Moran cautions that web-based learning will not replace classroom instruction. "Everyone thinks the revolution in training is about putting everything on-line. That's not true."

RIT is already paying dividends, Moran said. June saw the graduation of the first sailor to complete the new interior communication technician training. Training time was slashed 45 percent, to 59 days, and the Navy saved $7,000. The Storekeeper "A" School is now a web-based, self-paced course that is expected to save 58 man-years in training.

RIT took 18 months alone to map the skills required for all ratings. Next year, it will begin mapping the skills needed for officers, Moran said. "It's an incredible amount of stubby pencil work."
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Author:Peck, Michael
Publication:National Defense
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:990
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