Sloan-C: Critical Thinking Skills for Army Leaders: Applying Blended Learning Lessons From Multiple Contexts

  • Advanced Operations course (AOC) to develop mid-career officers in two venues
  • Study framework and Approach
    • online learning model with Sloan-C Pillars as course outcomes
    • emphasis on collaboration
    • course features
      • sync and async technologies
      • course content: complex thinking and skills, wide breadth, diverse teams
      • students: distributed worldwide, family and work commitments
      • org policy: compensation time for studies and actualization of the policy
  • Survey Findings about AOC-BDL (blended distributed learning)
    • student exit surveys
    • developed survey to gauge graduate student information
    • greater rate of response from exit surveys versus
    • nearly 80% of students thought the course met its goals
    • satisfaction levels generally high but only half would recommend it to others
    • post-graduate survey is actually more likely to recommend course than those completing immediate exit survey
    • work and family commitment was biggest challenge, but tech and internet access were still a significant (approx. 40%) amount of a challenge to course satisfaction
    • students wanted scheduled in-person time for a week or two at end to work on program
    • complex skill analysis is a challenge to do online
  • Key Literature Review and Case Study Results
    • criteria: similar SLOs to AOC; serve adult learners; multiple media and modalities
    • 3 original cases
      • Pennsylvania State University World Campus – higher ed
        • lacks ability to get employer incentives included
      • Naval Postgraduate School – military ed
        • students get letter from employers regarding time/days/commitment
      • Xerox’s Service Delivery eXcellence (SDX) program – industry
        • 6-months long (a rarity in industry)
        • get employers involved – career specific
    • conclusions from literature
      • instructional design and pedagogy are most important factors, not the venue
      • four key methods
        • train students re: technology
        • scaffold discussions, provide timely feedback
        • use small groups for interactive activities – sometimes with role assignments (time keeper, etc)
        • have peer evals to increase accountability on teams
  • Findings and Conclusions
    • overall satisfied, but need to work on collaboration piece
    • firewalls and privacy limitations restrict access to alternate technologies and open source technologies –> exploring workarounds
    • needs more work on objective measures such as knowledge/skills/abilities prior to course and compare to afterwards, not just evaluate student and faculty satisfaction
    • address high attrition rate — unsure what the attrition rate is for in-person, but presumably lower than the online course scenario
    • backlog of people who need to take the course is in the thousands; residency program can only accept 1400 or so at a time
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