Teamwork makes the dream work. DAU’s collaboration with Booz Allen Hamilton took home the silver Excellence in Learning award from the Brandon Hall Group, for the dramatic transformation from an on-premise, legacy learning management system (LMS) to a modern, cloud-based system.
"A special thanks to the large team of DAU employees and contractors that were involved in the success of this project,” said Learning Systems Program Manager Jonathan Barkand, Ed.D. “DAU was among the few Federal government agencies to win a Brandon Hall Award [this year] and has shown DAU's innovative practices are competitive in a global commercial field."
The Excellence Award, which recognizes organizations that have successfully deployed programs, strategies, modalities, processes, systems, and tools that have achieved measurable results, was presented to DAU in the category of Best Advance in Learning Technology Implementation.
At the height of the digital age, amid smart phones, Virtual Reality capabilities, and Artificial Intelligence available at the tips of one’s fingers, DAU found itself struggling to rectify an antiquated LMS, AtlasPro training system. Originally developed by Booz Allen Hamilton and implemented in 2001, what began as a uniquely customizable LMS soon presented a myriad of issues. Replicating the program in other systems proved next to impossible, and the on-premise system gradually lapsed into a security risk as it was neglected by the vendor. At the top of the list begging to be addressed was the LMS user interface, a clunky, inefficient, text-heavy system that proved increasingly difficult to navigate.
The undertaking that ensued to remedy these concerns was massive—350 DAU online courses needed to be migrated and upgraded to SCORM 2004, while approximately 20 years of data would require an integration to multiple internal and external DAU systems. The transition would require roughly three months of operating both systems parallel to each other before any lasting changes could be enacted.
To help guide them through this daunting process, DAU established three overall objectives they believed were necessary in supporting the organization’s Acquisition Learning Model:
These decisive demands eventually led to Booz Allen Hamilton partnering with Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD) to produce a modern, cloud-based, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) system. Through various focus groups and User Acceptance Training, Booz Allen Hamilton’s partnership with CSOD resulted in a new interface with a plethora of intuitive features, such as a responsive registration and encrypted Single Sign-On process, easily accessible welcome videos and tutorials, personalized user profiles, and detailed search and reporting capabilities. The impact of this interface has been groundbreaking for the entire DAU enterprise. Students and leadership have reported satisfaction with the technological advancements and provided training.
Every success story is not without its share of challenges. In establishing the new LMS, DAU faced various obstacles. First, there was the matter of time. With only a year to execute the required updates and system integrations, Booz Allen Hamilton’s partnership with CSOD was crucial to fulfilling DAU’s objectives in a timely and efficient manner. Representatives from all three organizations were also made available to help alleviate concerns expressed by DAU employees, and in turn coach anyone in need on how to use the new system.
On lessons learned, individuals involved with the project expressed the necessity of maintaining a mission-first attitude that revolves around always putting the users first, planning for future developments to avoid falling victim to a stagnant system in the future, and knowing the audience and how to best address their needs and concerns.
As DAU revels in its hard-earned victory, those responsible for the LMS initiative are quick to share their glory. DAU hopes to explore additional partnerships and opportunities for growth within CSOD in the future. Above all, DAU’s highest priority remains the student experience.
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