When it comes to education, industry is getting back to the basics: It is exploring the fundamentals of exactly how people learn. The objective is to perfect the virtual classroom by matching technology to the learning process rather than matching the learning process to the technology.
The smell of fat crayons, the snap of three-ring binders and the crack of book spines as they open for the first time bring back memories of those old school days. Students today, both in the classroom and on the job, are more familiar with the hum of a hard drive and glow of a monitor screen. One thing, however, has not changed--the up-front expenses for an education rarely reflect the final cost.
A program designed by the U.S. Defense Department will provide the military and federal government with the latest online study techniques by developing software standards and promoting the use of new technologies. Known as advanced distributed learning, the initiative aims at offering the highest quality schooling that can be tailored to meet individual needs and delivered cost-effectively wherever and whenever required.
The exploding use of encryption in cyberspace has spawned a dilemma for policy makers. They must strive to balance citizens' rights to security and privacy with the needs of law enforcement and intelligence to police what a senior defense official terms a "lawless frontier," and others call the "World Wild Web."
Ongoing operations that examine the convergence of current U.S. military information-gathering capabilities may lead to enhanced systems that will more effectively combat theater ballistic missile threats. Research underway by the U.S. military focuses on more effectively exploiting the information provided by overhead nonimaging infrared satellites to support naval missions. Looking into the next century, military officials believe that more capable, future satellite sensor systems will enable the next generation of naval warfighting forces to gain the efficiency and effectiveness required to expand their umbrella of operations.
Until recently, battlefield information systems were viewed merely as enablers to conventional military operations. Only a decade ago, their buzzwords were "force multiplier." Since the Gulf War, which demonstrated the value of Western high-technology supremacy, information systems have steadily increased in importance, shedding their supporting roles for leads in the growing variety of military operations.
A single secure global information grid is emerging to greatly increase U.S. and allied combat power. This overarching system-of-systems approach recognizes that each unique platform, weapon system, computer, radio, piece of equipment and warrior is also part of a much greater network.
The drive to speed new military information system technologies to the field, coupled with an increased reliance on commercial off-the-shelf products, is posing new interoperability problems for communicators. Many of these systems must interoperate in an increasingly networked environment with legacy equipment or foreign counterparts in coalition operations.
Communications specialists are proposing that the U.S. Forces-Korea change engineering and management approaches and follow the lead of commercial Internet service providers. The plan offers wide area network transmission bandwidth between the global defense information infrastructure and command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems users on the Korean Peninsula, and it addresses several problems with the existing data network there.
British forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo will receive a new, highly automated communications network designed to reduce staffing requirements. Part of an ambitious 28-week program by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, it will replace a manpower-intensive system currently in use, allowing roughly 260 Royal Signal Corps personnel to be reassigned. Made entirely from commercial technologies, all elements must be in place and operational by late August before the harsh Balkan winter begins.