Digital University offers more educational opportunities for Airmen

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Brian Mahar
  • Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate

Digital University (DU) has added new course offerings and platform upgrades as it’s made the switch from AWS GovCloud to the more secure Cloud One environment.

The move to Cloud One, which aligns with direction from the Air Force, took place Jan. 20, according to Capt. Michael Valentin, DU director.

DU’s lead designer, Ron Stevens, stated the DU team, which consists of members from vendor partner Omni Federal and Business and Enterprise Systems Product Innovation (BESPIN), added new learning paths for data science, cloud engineering and secured app development into DU. Students can enroll in multiple training courses at a time and complete them at their own pace. The platform also includes the option to withdraw with the click of a button. However, students can re-enroll and pick up where they left off.

Using feedback from its pool of 15,822 active users, the DU development team also integrated the ability to search across the entirety of courseware accessible through DU, provide those results and then start courses directly inside the DU website. Stevens said users’ desire to find specific training they’re interested in influenced the creation of this feature.

Before the recent platform upgrades, the process began with users going to the vendor site, Udemy, to look for courses they were interested in taking. Stevens said the DU team learned how users felt about the search and start process for training courses through user feedback interviews and a quarterly user satisfaction form.

“The DU site wasn’t originally designed to support that type of activity,” Stevens said. “But we heard back about that being a use case that our users wanted, so we designed this feature. Over the coming months, we plan to add additional vendors to our search so that users will be able to search on the DU website and see course offerings across multiple vendors at once and pick the course that best fits their needs regardless of which vendor owns that course.”

The DU team has worked hard to enhance the platform’s support experience after users requested improvements. Users primarily request support to reset passwords and to reset one-time password access. Users can now request help on the DU site by submitting a form. Also, the site can be accessed using a Common Access Card, another feature that was added, in part, due to user feedback.

The plan moving forward is to continue identifying and adding learning paths, courses and upgrades that meet the needs of service members.

“DU democratizes digital learning and skills across the force,” Valentin said. “The capabilities DU provides are essential to increase the cyber literacy required to fly, fight and win in the Information Age and on the modern battlefield. Continuing to evolve is imperative to maintain the edge in the high-end fight and lead the way in highly complex technical fields against strategic competitors. DU is constantly scanning the digital literacy landscape and listening to its users and the requirements of organizations across the force.”

With the potential to house the data required by senior leaders and commanders to make decisions regarding personnel movement and skill proficiencies, Digital University is on its way to becoming the benchmark for cyber learning in the Air Force and Space Force with the goal of reaching across Department of Defense services and the federal government.