Pioneers in Distance Learning

Pioneers in Distance Learning

Federal Government Distance Learning Association Honors Those Who Dedicated Long Careers of Service

When the Federal Government Distance Learning Association (FGDLA) had its annual meeting,many distance-learning pioneers were on hand. Those with the longest, richest history were honored, among them Dr. Jolly T. Holden, G.A. Redding and Jay A. Allen.

Holden was given an Eagle Award while Redding was presented a Hall of Fame Award and Allen the President’s Award.

Here are the award-winners, both individual and organizational:


The Eagle Award is given to “an organization or individual that has demonstrated unique leadership in serving the needs of the federal government distance learning community by providing leadership, vision and advocacy. It is sponsored by

Holden received the individual Eagle Award. He has been involved with distance learning in the federal government for the past 20 years and is a co-founder of the FGDLA.

Holden also pioneered the U.S. Air Force’s satellite distance-learning initiative while on active duty at the Air Force Institution of Technology. Upon his retirement from the U.S.A.F. in 1992, he stayed actively involved and to this day teaches online courses.

Holden is an adjunct faculty member of the School of Education, American InterContinental University Online Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) Instructional Technology degree program. He also is on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and is an Emeritus Fellow to Ball State University’s Center for Information and Computer Sciences.

“I was privileged to win the award,”Holden said. “It was the first time the FGDLA has presented that award, and it’s higher than the other awards. The Eagle Award was established for organizations that far exceeded their mission, but this was the first individual award made. The FGDLA felt that it needed to recognize not only organizations but people who go above and beyond.”

National Defense University received, the highest organizational award presented by the FGDLA. Dr. Jay Alden, who was one of the NDU recipients, is a pioneer in distance learning and a catalyst for the formation of the FGDLA. Dr. Elizabeth McDaniel, who also accepted the award, is Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs, Information Resources Management College at the National Defense University.

“It was a total surprise to us, because we did not even know about the nomination,” said McDaniel. “Leaders who founded the FGDLA attended the conference at the college about 18 years ago at the college. It was such a powerful event that the current leadership was inspired and started the organization and saw that we were continuing to be innovative and leading the federal government into the virtual world. National Defense University has sustained that leadership over the years.”


The Five-Star Award is presented “in recognition of an individual or organization for demonstrating leadership and best practices in the development and application of proven distance learning technologies to solve performance issues in the federal government.”

Convergent Media Systems was one of the winners of this award.

“The honor was based more on our history of providing excellent service to the organization and to the various government agencies for the purposes of distance learning and communications,” notes Chris Conrath, Convergent’s director of marketing. “We have been offering video-based services to the government for training and communication for a long time.We’ve been around since 1980.We initially provided ad hoc video and satellite services, so we were very well positioned to provide more permanent services when distance learning became more popular among government agencies.”

The U.S. General Services Administration with the FGDLA’s second prestigious
Five-Star Award.

“GSA has a long and distinguished history of supporting distance learning in the federal government,” said Westfall.

The Government Education and Training Network’s (GETN) current distance learning is delivered via satellite and is one of the featured satellite applications supplied through the GSA SATCOM II program managed by Anita Keeler and Jim Russo. GSA has continuously provided contract vehicles over the past two decades to supply GETN with satellite bandwidth, equipment and engineering services. SATCOM II delivers high-quality services through multiple contractors and supports task orders from 20 federal agencies to support their interactive distance learning networks.


This award goes to “an individual or organization for demonstrating leadership and best practices in the development and application of emerging distance learning technologies to solve performance issues in the federal government.” And this year’s winner was Helius, LLC.

“We appreciate Helius’ support of our organization,” said Westfall. “The leadership and insight they have brought to the distance learning community have been invaluable.We selected Helius as this year’s Innovation Award recipient in recognition of their development of emerging distance learning technologies that directly support the federal government.”

Helius President Mike Tippets said: “We are honored to have been acknowledged. Integrated distance learning and communications solutions are fundamentally important to federal, state, and local government agencies, and we are privileged to support their work in serving their constituents.”


Named to the FGDLA’s Hall of Fame by virtue of their new Hall of Fame Awards
were G. A. Redding and Walter C. Breckons of the U.S. Department of the Army. The award is given “for outstanding and sustained service to the association or significant career accomplishments in promoting and developing distance learning in the federal government.”

Redding is the registrar for the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Registry and senior policy advisor for the ADL Initiative. He also works for Institute for Defense Analyses, Inc.

As chief of the Instructor Division, Broadcast Department of the Defense Information School (DINFOS), Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Ind., in 1976, he was responsible for installing and integrating PLATO learning systems into the Broadcast
Division of the Defense Information School (DINFOS). He also enabled distance
learning technologies and courseware on board Navy warships from 1976 to 1978, and was registrar of first-ever ADL registry as the director of the Co-Lab. Redding also helped develop the CD-ROM format and was involved in transferring learning from analog to digital systems.

“My body of work in distance learning goes quite a ways back,” says Redding. “I’ve
been involved in ADL Initiative since its inception in 1997 as a core member and one of the people involved in SCORM establishment. It wasn’t until we started breaking the content from the media that we really got into distance learning and use other delivery media. That got us involved in the whole concept of SCORM.”

Breckons also received a Hall of Fame Award.


The Pillar Award, given this year to Design2Train LLC and the Enliten Management Group Inc., is made for ‘outstanding service or significant contribution to the FGDLA by an individual or organization not affiliated with the federal government.”

Though Design2Train owner and president V. Karen Miller was unable to attend the awards ceremony due to a previous engagement, she was nonetheless honored.

“I was attending a national tech-learn 36 Fall 2009 Government Elearning! federal pioneers Convergent Media Systems and the General Services Adminstration won a pair of Five-Star Awards. conference in 2006, became acquainted with the FGDLA, and they seemed like a good group of people to join,”Miller remembers today. “In 2007, I was asked to be on the board. I’ve also managed theirWebsite for them, and I still serve on their board.

Design2Train has been a training contractor to the Texas Department of Transportation since 2003, providing training services for small, disadvantaged business owners across the state.Miller has been in corporate training, education and learning for 25 years.

“I’m very proud my company received the recognition,”Miller says. “It’s difficult
being a small-business owner and competing with the big guys, so the award is very meaningful.”

Enliten’s award was accepted by Randy Palubiak. “I was honored and pleased,” says
Palubiak (photo right), who is FGDLA treasurer. “When you work with people for a period of time and establish a relationship with them, when they need information and guidance, you just do it. I had no expectation that the award was forthcoming.”

Founded in 1999, Enliten is a team of video, media and technology experts who
provide guidance and support related to communications and satellite delivery technology, including selecting vendors to provide satellite distance-learning services or Webcasting services.


Outgoing president Jay A. Allen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was
presented this award for outstanding service and leadership to the organization. The retired U.S. Coast Guard Commander is today the DHS’s leading authority on enterprise learning solutions.

Allen served as president-elect in2006, then served as president in 2007 and 2008, the only FGDLA president to have served two consecutive terms. During his tenure, the organization revamped its entire constitution and bylaws, eliminated individual dues and launched the 2.0 networking site at

“I am grateful to have maintained the tradition of the association for the two years I served as its president,” says Allen. “The association’s goals are an absolute necessity to achieve, given the transformation and pace of our industry within the federal government.”

Leave a reply