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The Distributed Learning processes and technologies increasingly used by the U.S. military for personnel training are again demonstrating their effectiveness in international military exercises. A team sponsored by the ADL Initiative, successfully performed the 10th test of electronic and online training methods during Viking 22, a regularly held US-Swedish event now considered the world’s largest international computer-aided staff exercise.

During March and April of 2022, Viking 22 brought over 2,000 participants from 50 nations and 60 civilian organizations together to train for mounting a coordinated military and humanitarian response during a simulated conflict. The exercise was conducted simultaneously in six countries and at nine different locations. Translated into a real-life situation, the training audiences would have led operations comprised of up to 80,000 personnel.

The ADL Initiative’s Maturing ADL in Exercises (MADLx) project integrated distributed learning resources into Viking 22 for both pre-event training and in-exercise performance support, and established dashboard-supported analytics to measure the effectiveness of the eLearning.

Viking participants are typically given time consuming, in-person, pre-event training to support the exercise objectives. For Viking 22, the MADLx project arranged nine online courses, supported by a Moodle LMS (Learning Management System), a Trax open-source LRS (Learning Record Store), and a custom-designed website (vikinglearning.org) hosting wiki pages to provide detailed information on the exercise scenario. Leveraging the Experience Application Programming Interface (xAPI), data was collected on participants’ performance with the online courses, their use of the wiki resources, and their relative success in meeting the exercise objectives, as observed during the event.

Viking exercise graphic logo

The exercise data came from Viking 22 observer/trainer personnel to help establish a team-by-team evaluation of performance in the exercise. This data was converted to xAPI statements and uploaded to the MADLx LRS. Of the 2,000 exercise participants, 762 took the pre-event online courses and 747 visited the website wiki pages. In all, 202,686 xAPI statements were generated by 1,025 participants.

The aggregated data showed overall participant satisfaction with the eLearning component. At the beginning of the event, 93% of participants rated the pre-exercise online courses as having a positive (“Fair” or greater) effect on their preparation. A post-exercise assessment indicated that the Viking eLearning platform proved itself useful, with 92% of respondents agreeing it helped prepare them for their roles in the exercise.

Another MADLx objective during Viking 22 was the refinement of a prototype return-on-investment (ROI) dashboard allowing managers to compare the performance of personnel who used the MADLx resources with those who did not. The dashboard presented exercise stakeholders with actionable information on participant performance and learning outcomes by combining LRS data from the online courses and wiki pages with daily survey data from observer/trainer personnel to create a correlation matrix to support informed decision making to improve training.

“Beyond gauging the effectiveness of distributed learning, an important objective for MADLx is to introduce and accelerate the adoption of these capabilities among U.S. allies and partners,” said Aaron Presnall, Ph.D., president of the Jefferson Institute, an ADL Initiative vendor responsible for MADLx implementation. “By sharing resources and approaches for education and training, we improve joint readiness, reduce duplicative investments, and forge closer social and economic ties.”

While a Viking 22 post-event analysis identified shortcomings with pre-event stakeholder coordination, and with the data collection process, the results from this and other MADLx-supported exercises have gained the ADL Initiative a seat at the table for planning and implementing future multinational exercises. Dr. Presnall was assigned a deputy director role on the Viking 22 Exercise Evaluation team, and he was asked to provide multiple post-event briefings on MADLx to senior military personnel from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

Future MADLx-supported events likely will include the next Viking (tentatively planned for 2025) and the next Bold Quest exercise, an annual event designed to assess coalition weapon systems deployment and tactics. The ADL Initiative will continue to assess the data from Viking 22 and work to refine the MADLx processes and tools to ensure positive outcomes.

The ADL Initiative has a long history of collaborating with international organizations, through MADLx and active support to the ADL Global Partnership NetworkNATOPartnership for Peace Consortium (PfPC), and The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP). For more information on MADLx, contact the ADL Initiative.

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