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ADL Sae Schatz

Sae Schatz, Ph.D., who served seven years as the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative Director, is separating from DoD civil service as of August 12, 2022. Her tenure will be remembered as a turning point for the program, helping the ADL Initiative become a pioneer for modernized lifelong learning in DoD and expanding its influence across the community.

Dr. Schatz joined the ADL Initiative in June 2015 and led the program through an organizational transformation, reshaping it into a change agent for DoD’s education and training enterprise. Her vision focused on developing a data-driven, interoperable approach for education, training, and readiness. “Building the Future Learning Ecosystem” became the program’s mantra, with Dr. Schatz championing efforts to enhance interoperability across learning platforms and to deliver high-quality anytime and anywhere learning across interconnected system-of-systems. She helped to spread this vision through the book, Modernizing Learning, as well as through many other presentations and publications.

Under Dr. Schatz leadership, the ADL Initiative established the Total Learning Architecture, a set of specifications and standards for managing learning and development data at enterprise scales. She also oversaw program’s assignment to lead DoD’s Enterprise Digital Learning Modernization (EDLM) reform, which among other things involves implementing federated digital architectures to enable enterprise-wide data-driven methods.

This work led the (former) Chief Data Officer to dub ADL Initiative “a pathfinder for enterprise data services” in recognition of its “outsized impact, both in the digital learning domain as well as for the broader Department” (memo dtd 8 June 2021).

The EDLM reform effort also involves establishment of centralized distributed learning technical capabilities, now being released within the DoD Learning Enclave (DLE). The DLE is a cloud-based set of enterprise digital learning systems, conformant learning activities, and a data management infrastructure. Initial DLE capabilities include the Enterprise Course CatalogEnterprise Learner Record RepositoryLearning Technology Warehousecmi5 Data Profile SpecificationDistributed Learning Capability Maturity ModelCompetency and Skills SystemPersonal eBook for Learning, and PERLS Adaptive Learning System. Realization of the DLE brings DoD one step closer to achieving the Future Learning Ecosystem vision in practice.

“Dr. Schatz has been critical to raising awareness for the EDLM and is a passionate proponent for creating efficiencies in the Services through the modernization and acquisition of technology for DoD learning programs. She has put this reform on a pathway to success and her impact will be felt for years after she has left her position,” Mr. William R. Mansell Jr., Defense Support Services Center Director.

In addition to advancing its science and technology objectives, the ADL Initiative expanded its stakeholder coordination under Dr. Schatz’s tenure. She emphasized strategies to mitigate the research-practice gap and further developed the ADL Initiative Outreach Team, which is a critical enabler for all other activities. The Outreach Team helps R&D projects close the loop by communicating and supporting implementation activities (e.g., workshops). In addition, Outreach helps diffuse ADL science and technology innovations by engaging the larger community, building relationships, and fostering communities of practice. Lastly, Outreach facilitates coordination with professional societies, the Defense ADL Advisory Committee (DADLAC), international governmental bodies (such as NATO), and the ADL Global Partnership Network.

“Dr. Schatz deserves credit for bringing balance and a focus on readiness and learning sciences to the ADL initiative. She worked tirelessly to increase both national and international collaboration ensuring that ADL remained focused on innovation, integration and ROI.” Mr. Bill Railer, Canada ADL Center Director.

Under Dr. Schatz’s leadership, the DADLAC expanded from around a dozen participants representing 8 DoD organizations in 2015 to today’s vibrant community with over 400 participants from more than 90 different offices. She also expanded the ADL Global Partnership Network, welcoming seven new partners, and increasing coordination with partners and allies via increased communications and collaborative efforts.

“Dr Schatz’s arrival into the NATO community provided an incredible resource to all of NATO’s education and training community. From strong dynamic leadership of our working and task groups, to incredible knowledge and the ability to always “find someone to answer” in the rare occasion she could not. Her vision of the possibilities and needs for the future have set the goals that we seek to achieve in the next ten years,” Paul Thurkettle, NATO ACT ADL Center Director.

Overall, Dr. Schatz set the ADL Initiative onto a renewed course and powerful trajectory. She will be succeeded by the program’s fifth official director (to be announced), who will take the helm of a program now well-situated with the Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA) and ready to begin operationalizing the Future Learning Ecosystem vision across DoD in practice.

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