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Producing Ready, Relevant Learning for Sailors

Sailor 2025

Over the next few years, Sailors can expect changes to their training, namely, what they learn, and how and when they learn it.

Indeed, the chief of naval operation's new Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) initiative, led by the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) under the direction of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, aims to deliver training at the right time, in the right place and in the right format for today's Sailors.

The initiative is one of three aspects of Sailor 2025, which also includes modernizing the personnel system and enriching the culture. All three aspects are designed to work in tandem to give the Sailor what he or she needs to succeed in the 21st century.

"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.

"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, Recognizing that with today's focus on innovation and critical thinking, some traditional training methods aren't as effective as they could be. They're being re-evaluated.

"RRL is a transformational Navy training initiative that will accelerate the learning of every Sailor for faster response to our rapidly changing warfighting requirements," Pfefferkorn said. "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."

The Navy's "A" schools are considered basic operator and, in some cases, basic maintenance training, for each rating, while "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.
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These courses will be modernized for more than 70 enlisted ratings. 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).

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

"We are looking at how Sailors learn, what they need to learn, when they need to learn it, and the best way to deliver the learning content," Pfefferkorn said.

In fact, accession schoolhouse content is the focus of the first phase of curriculum conversion, and 100 percent of current learning objectives will be evaluated. Relying on technical documentation, instructors and fleet subject matter experts (who represent Sailors), NAWCTSD is capturing the knowledge and skills that Sailors learn in schools. Under RRL, planners will develop, implement, integrate, test and evaluate, and deliver modernized training content.

"Our collaboration with schoolhouse instructors and fleet subject matter experts is critical to success," Pfefferkorn said.

Another key component of RRL is identifying what Sailors need to know at any given time during their careers, as well as when they need to learn new information or skills.

"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." The process, he continued, will analyze the most appropriate and effective delivery methods for each learning objective.

This involves thinking outside the box and going beyond traditional classroom instruction. For example, one potential solution may be a pier side electronic classroom with 20 computers configured to train electricians' mates one day and fire control technicians the next, Pfefferkorn said.

"This could be on a tablet, it could be in a virtual environment, by themselves or with other Sailors or Marines," Grosklags said. "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."

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