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Danish military launch new learning environment


The Danish Armed Forces Distance Education Centre (DEC) recently launched the "Forsvarets Elektroniske Skole" (FELS, the Armed Forces electronic school). The distance education course for senior non-commissioned officers provides instruction in management, military regulations, tactics and other skills, and combines traditional classroom training with distance education.
Powering the course is Sitescape Forum, a collaborative learning environment. Students will use the system to learn new material and communicate with each other and with teachers remotely and asynchronously.

"These new courses will change the traditional snail mail or e-mail correspondence school into a modern learning environment with abundant opportunities for learning between the student and teacher, but also from other students," says Lt. Col. Lief G. Schunck, commanding officer at DEC. "With FELS, we have now developed a complete virtual school within SiteScape. The school has classrooms, group and team rooms, moderated forums, bulletin board, staff room, library, Web file system, calendars, technical help and FAQ, chat rooms, etc.--everything necessary to mimic a traditional school online."
Says Master Sgt. Claus Hartvig, FELS project manager, "All the programs DEC selects to be used in FELS must be available via a normal Web browser, without requirement of installation of plug-ins, etc. on the local workstation. That’s the only way we can ensure that the students have the freedom to study wherever they are.

"We also want to stress the pedagogical aspects of providing education using constructivism, where the student’s individual reflection evolves their knowledge, instead of the ‘petrol pump attendant’ learning concept, where you just fill up the student’s head with the knowledge. SiteScape Forum allows us to meet these requirements."

In January, a 13-month class for officers began, which will focus on psychology, pedagogy and leadership. Toward the end of 2002, the Royal Danish Military plans to use Forum in its 18-month career course for promotion from captain to major.

DEC translated the SiteScape user interface to Danish so students who are not fluent in English can concentrate on their studies rather than on navigating the system.


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