Producing Ready, Relevant Learning for Sailors

A Sailor uses the Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System 3D® as he trains on the Mobile Electric Power Plants (MEPP) system used to maintain ground support equipment. MEPP is the first of many aviation operations and maintenance training applications, all of which can run on a common set of hardware. (U.S. Navy photo)


By Andrea Watters and Mikel Lauren Proulx

The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) is a key stakeholder in leading the CNO’s Ready, Relevant Learning (RRL) initiative to deliver training at the right time, in the right place and in the right format for today’s Sailors.

RRL is one of three aspects of the CNO’s Sailor 2025 Vision of the 21st century Sailor, which also includes modernizing the personnel system and enriching the culture. All three aspects are designed to work in tandem to give Sailors what they need to succeed.

“The long-term vision is to offer all Navy training in the Ready, Relevant Learning model, which will become the new norm, backed by repeatable processes, new standards and proven results,” said Eric Pfefferkorn, program manager for RRL at NAWCTSD in Orlando, Florida.

In support of Sailor 2025, NAWCTSD operates under the authority and direction of the executive agent, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

With today’s focus on innovation and critical thinking, some traditional training methods are being re-evaluated.

“Right now, we train Sailors early in their careers and, just like all of us, they forget a lot of that training because they don’t use it; they don’t have a need to use it until, perhaps, six, seven, eight years down the road. Then we need to refresh that training for them,” said Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, commander, Naval Air Systems Command.

“RRL is a transformational Navy training initiative that will accelerate the learning of every Sailor for faster response to our rapidly changing warfighting requirements. A major goal is to achieve higher performance by coupling the timing of training delivery with every Sailor’s actual deck plate need. RRL will ensure every Sailor receives modernized training at the point of need to support assigned tasking through a phased approach starting with accession ‘A’ and ‘C’ schools,” Pfefferkorn said.

The transition begins with modernizing the courses taught in the Navy’s traditional accession schools for more than 70 enlisted ratings. Ratings are the jobs enlisted Sailors perform, and these designations follow Sailors throughout their careers building a sense of pride and community. The rating names have been an integral part of the Navy for more than 241 years; so much so that in December CNO Adm. John Richardson reversed the decision, made three months earlier, to replace the ratings system with a Navy Occupational Specialty Code. While ratings have returned, the Navy still intends to modernize the rating program.

The first eight ratings scheduled for conversion to RRL are aviation electrician’s mate (AE), cryptologic technician maintenance (CTM), logistics specialist (LS), logistics specialist submarine (LSS), quartermaster (QM), operations specialist (OS), sonar technician surface (STG) and sonar technician submarine (STS).

Sailors learn together on the Mobile Electric Power Plants Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System 3D®. (U.S. Navy photo)


To help determine how training content is converted, NAWCTSD and industry partners are using current science of learning, human performance support strategies and distributed learning in virtualized, mobile and Navy training enterprise systems.

“We are looking at how a Sailor learns, what they need to learn, when they need to learn it, and the best way to deliver the learning content,” Pfefferkorn said.

Accession schoolhouse content is the focus of the first phase of curriculum content conversion, and 100 percent of those learning objectives will be evaluated for conversion. Relying on technical documentation, instructors and fleet subject matter experts, NAWCTSD is capturing the knowledge and skills that Sailors learn in schools to develop, implement, integrate, test and evaluate and deliver modernized training content.

The Navy’s “A” schools are considered basic operator and, in some cases, basic maintenance training for each rating, and “C” schools are the Navy’s advanced training schools. Depending on the rating, both schools can range from several weeks to more than a year.

“Our collaboration with schoolhouse instructors and fleet subject matter experts is critical to success,” Pfefferkorn said. Fleet subject matter experts are representatives of the Sailors in a particular rating.

Another key component of RRL is identifying when Sailors need to learn new information or skills during their careers. Pfefferkorn’s team is looking closely at a Sailor’s career progression and asking what he or she needs to know at any given time during their career. “A machinist mate doesn’t necessarily need to learn how to conduct a diesel engine inspection during his or her first tour, but does need to qualify to safely operate the diesel,” he said.

“Once we know how, what and when, we can determine the most effective means of delivering that training,” Pfefferkorn said.

“During one of the steps in NAWCTSD’s process—the media and fidelity analysis—media pool characteristics are refined to ensure high training effectiveness while minimizing cost impacts. The most appropriate delivery methods for each learning objective are then narrowed down and the best delivery method is chosen,” he said.

“This could be on a tablet, it could be in a virtual environment, by themselves or with other Sailors or Marines. It could be in a schoolhouse at the end of the pier or in the squadron environment. I believe it is going to be a combination of all of those things and probably some things we haven’t thought about yet,” Grosklags said.

One potential solution may be a pier side electronic classroom with 20 computers configured to train electrician’s mates one day and fire control technicians the next, Pfefferkorn said.

Non-Traditional Content Delivery

NAWCTSD has already developed a non-traditional learning model called the Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System 3D® (MRTS 3D®).

The MRTS 3D laboratories and classrooms operate government-owned simulation software run on a network of commercial-off-the-shelf computer hardware with the tactical equipment, such as a torpedo room, simulated in a physics-based video game engine, said David Williams, deputy director, Undersea Programs at NAWCTSD. The MRTS 3D suite can switch between multiple simulation applications within minutes, providing photo-realistic, virtual training for several systems. Students follow shipboard procedures and operating manuals, interacting with the simulated equipment through intuitive touchscreen commands and gestures such as turning valves and selecting tools for the job.

Sailors work on individual scenarios as they train on the Mobile Electric Power Plants Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System 3D® developed at Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, Fla. (U.S. Navy photo)


“MRTS 3D is a great example of training outside the traditional classroom. The training still requires instructors, but does not necessitate an entire building full of classrooms and associated infrastructure,” Pfefferkorn said.

“One of the highly effective aspects of the MRTS 3D training solutions is that it can be aligned for individual training, where every student has their own independent simulation, or the hardware can be rearranged to simulate a larger system for team training,” Williams said.

For example, one MRTS 3D lab could be used to simulate 24 independent MRTS 3D Mobile Electric Power Plants (MEPP), wherein each student is reacting to different casualties as set by the instructor. The MRTS 3D touchscreens could then be reconfigured to simulate an aircraft carrier’s “bubble,” flight deck, and equipment spaces for team launch and recovery operations.

“The fielded products are currently stand-alone training systems, but there are a variety of initiatives being examined for how best to include the MRTS 3D products into RRL and other Navy plans,” Williams said.

The MRTS 3D MEPP is the first of many aviation operations and maintenance training applications, all of which can run on a common set of hardware.

NAWCTSD is in the early development stages for the MRTS 3D MQ-4C Triton avionics maintenance trainer, and other aviation support equipment for the aviation support equipment technician (AS) is planned over the next several years.

Other aviation applications in the works include an operational and maintenance simulation of the Ford-class aircraft carriers’ next generation catapult system, the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). This training system will be used for several different aviation ratings, saving funds compared to producing single-purpose trainers for each technical rate.

Andrea Watters is editor of Naval Aviation News magazine, and Mikel Lauren Proulx is the Visual Information Department lead at Naval Air Systems Command.

Fleet to Receive Transportable Jet Simulation Trainers

Rendering courtesy of Logistics Services International Inc.

The days of Marines walking into the ready room on their ship and seeing a makeshift AV-8B Harrier cockpit—with its controls, buttons and knobs drawn on whiteboards surrounding a “pilot” chair—are numbered thanks to a new training device.

In August, the Naval Aviation Training Systems Program Office (PMA-205) entered into an $8.4 million procurement contract with Logistics Services International Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, to provide eight transportable AV-8B cockpit simulation trainers inclusive of radar operation, hand-on-throttle-and-stick operation, heads-up and multi-color display, and control monitor set functionality. The first deployable mission trainers are expected to be delivered to the fleet in July 2018.

These first-of-their-kind Deployable Mission Rehearsal Trainers (DMRTs) will provide pilots with critical training when they are deployed to forward areas or aboard a ship, said Brian Trago, Marine Corps AV-8B training systems integrated product team lead.

“The deployable nature of these devices will allow AV-8B pilots to take their safe, simulated training environment with them,” Trago said. “In doing so, pilots will have the ability to continue to train the way they will fight versus training while they are fighting.”

The importance of the DMRT can’t be overstated, Trago said, expanding on the increased safety the trainer will provide.

“In addition to being a safe, no-risk environment for our pilots, ground-based simulated training is a fraction of the cost of flying,” he added.

Marine Corps Aviation Training Systems lead Anthony Singleton said the DMRT will improve current situations in which deployed pilots draw up the aircraft’s cockpit layout on whiteboards surrounding a chair to practice and train for upcoming missions.

“The DMRT advances that concept,” Singleton said. “It is comprised of a simulated out-the-window view with flat screens depicting the cockpit’s displays, buttons, knobs and switches, which the pilots will be able to virtually utilize, along with a mock AV-8B cockpit seat, stick and throttle.”

Written by Amanda Scott, who provides communication support to the Naval Aviation Training Systems Program Office.

Logistics Specialist Rating Kicks off Block Learning

Instructor Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jordan M. Monroe goes over the Basic Ships Self Defense System console operations with Operations Specialist Seaman Recruit Francesca G. Frontera during a simulation of underway strike group operations at Operations Specialist “A” School, Center for Combat Systems Unit, Great Lakes, Ill. (U.S. Navy photo by Matt Mogle)

Naval Technical Training Center Meridian’s Logistics Specialist (LS) Course convened the first delivery under the new block learning construct, April 17, marking a major milestone in the transformation to Ready Relevant Learning (RRL).

The first group of Sailors to participate in the new block learning construct are new accession logistics specialists who just completed recruit training. The new course, referred to as Block 0, focuses on the basics of afloat and aviation logistics, to include procurement and inventory management, as well as the documents and directives required to perform these tasks.

The new curriculum removed the postal clerk portion of the training and shortened LS “A” school by seven training days, which ultimately gets Sailors to the fleet faster. LS Sailors on first operational tours who actually perform postal clerk duties will receive the postal clerk training, referred to as Block 1, no later than 24 months (in most cases) after arrival at their operational unit to align this specific training to the point of need—one of the major goals of RRL.

Block learning is the first step in the RRL transformation to a lifelong learning continuum for these Sailors. Training will only be delivered to students who require it for the billet that they are going to fill, thereby minimizing the amount of time required to train to only that which is mission relevant and enhances fleet readiness.

“Sailors receiving instruction in this new manner will be delivered to the fleet armed with the most current knowledge available to perform their jobs at a high level,” said Capt. Derric Turner, commanding officer, Center for Service Support (CSS). “I’m very proud of our civilians, Sailors and contractors that contributed to this process.”

“This course is the culmination of years of work and countless man-hours from training managers and instructional support specialists here at CSS, instructors at the schoolhouse, and input from the fleet to tailor the individual learning objectives to meet the needs of new Sailors assigned to the LS rating,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Bonita Myers, LS training manager.

CSS is comprised of active-duty, civilian and contractor personnel who direct the training efforts of administration, logistics and media schools for active-duty and commissioned officers. The CSS team ensures curriculum and professional development tools are current.

From Center for Service Support Public Affairs.