It is unlike anyone at the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) to rest on laurels. Finishing tops among all public organizations in this year’s Learning! 100 competition is testament to that fact.
“This past year, Jim Woolsey raised the bar and challenged our organization to excel,” says Dr. Chris Hardy, the university’s director of its Global Learning and Technology Center. “To improve business results, he expanded our scope and reach throughout the world, and integrated all formal and informal assets within our new enterprise wide learning strategy. By doing so, we focused all activities primarily on job and organizational success. With this approach, more than 600 DAU faculty and staff are committed to providing the workforce a continuous presence on the job, helping them and their organizations succeed.
“This has required real-time access to information via a variety of formats, to opportunities to network and share, to experts and coaches, and to the acquisition body of knowledge – all served up dynamically in a single portal designed to give users just what they need when they want it,” Hardy continues. “Additionally, our new enterprise learning strategy is called the Acquisition Learning Model (ALM).”
The ALM – which has won numerous awards prior to the Learning! 100 – was nominated in the Performance category. With it, DAU’s primary measure of success of all courses, Web assets, and performance support is business results. Composed of the three separate yet integrated domains, the ALM “links” DAU’s training, continuous learning, knowledge sharing, mission assistance, qualification and team training capabilities – by being current, connected and innovative in every area.
“Our students need current information – the latest policies and guidelines, as well as example lessons that are relevant to their increasingly diverse and fast-paced work,” Hardy further notes. “For our students, current will mean up-to-date case studies and other course materials in our foundational learning, as well as continually refreshed and interesting news, assets and tools in our workflow learning.
“Likewise, DAU must have current and direct knowledge of what’s going on in the acquisition enterprise so that we can anticipate the needs of our students, bring them the assets they need and teach in a way that is relevant to their work and their learning style.
“And DAU must also be tightly connected to our customers and aligned with their priorities and challenges. This helps make our work meaningful and is also a key function of a corporate university.”
DAU leaders are already improving the organization’s overall performance with several initiatives:
Deploying alternate delivery methods to include “flipped” classrooms with micro-video lectures
Incorporating critical thinking learning objectives into courses, and deploying new courses with emphasis on case studies and practical exercises;
Finding efficiency in everything from printing to buildings to work assignments;
Developing a “one-portal” philosophy for DAU’s Web-presence that enables ease of content discoverability and accidental learning; and
Emphasizing Mission Assistance to immediately improve outcomes and also to give its faculty exposure to the most current problems and practices in the acquisition enterprise.
“It has perhaps become a cliche to say that the world is changing fast, but there is no place where it is more true than in training and in defense,” Hardy concludes. “Those two worlds converge at DAU. Our new workforce thinks differently, learns differently, and will have demands on it unlike any have had in the past. These new initiatives will help us keep ahead of the changes in our environment and help us discover new opportunities to remain one of the world’s very best training organizations. The acquisition workforce and the warfighter deserve nothing less.”
DAU is a five-time Learning! 100 winner.