A hypothetical situation in one of our case studies for CON 290 turned into a very real and practical exercise with real-world impacts when their course was interrupted by a similar situation to the one they were studying.
Our Contract Administration and Negotiation Techniques in a Supply Environment (CON 290) course, taught by DAU Professor of Contract Management Ned Swanson, includes a case study to acquire a virus detector capable of detecting a respiratory virus.
“The case study is meant to simulate activities that will actually happen in a workplace,” Swanson, who served as the lead instructor for a recent offering, said.
In this popular, case study-based course, DoD acquisition workforce members follow a supply requirement through all phases of the acquisition life cycle, including planning, awarding and administering the contract as well as resolving common hurdles like fraud, disputes and changes. For the 22 students who were scheduled to take the mid-March course in Pearl Harbor, HI, the situation got even more real when in-residence classes were abruptly halted due to the pandemic. That put the instructors in a difficult position—either move the class online in record time or call the whole thing off.
“If we’d canceled, the students would have needed to find a future course, and CON 290 is a high-demand course with a waitlist,” Swanson explained. “So the individual might not have finished the class in the fiscal year, and that could have impacted their professional pathway.”
The instructors quickly pivoted, creating a virtual instructor-led training (VILT) version of the course using WebEx, one of the online learning platforms DAU teaches through.
“We called this an emergency provisioning, but the curriculum itself is the exact same as we use in the classroom,” Swanson said.
Although this seemed like an easy, immediate solution, there was one large issue at hand: students who would otherwise travel to Hawaii from Guam and Japan to attend the in-residence course were now scattered on either side of the International Date Line.
“The Pacific has the tyranny of distance and that certainly shows up in the time zone differences,” Swanson said.
As a result of this situation, the decision was made to begin all future Hawaii-based VILT courses in the DAU West Region at 9 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time, extending the VILT course start time by two hours for students in Guam and Japan.
As for this inaugural VILT version of the course, it ended up being executed to perfection thanks to the students’ ability to flex their hours.
“We were thrilled to not cancel this class,” Swanson said. “It was a great way to save the ability for the students to get that high-demand class completed and the students seemed to appreciate that.”
And that wasn’t the only advantage.
“The option to do virtual training could pay a lot of dividends because of reduced travel burden and then the cost associated with that,” Swanson said.
With that in mind—and given the limitations posed by the current crises—DAU CON 290 course management is now taking action to make the curriculum better suited for an online environment, ensuring that, no matter what the future brings, acquisition workforce professionals responsible for giving the Warfighter a decisive edge are empowered to do so.
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