Nebraska National Guard, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Honored for “Saving Taxpayers Money” through Innovative Distance Learning

May 27, 2002

Project LINCOLN, Neb. (May 24, 2002) — Two years before cutting costs became the watchword for state agencies, the Nebraska National Guard and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) began collaborating on Project ALERT, a series of distance learning courses enabling Guard members to use home computers to log onto the Worldwide Web and train at their own pace, on their own schedules, and without wasting time driving to and from a Guard armory or base.

The far-sighted synthesis of technology and training earned an eLearning Success Award for “Saving Taxpayers Money” in the government category at the eLearning Exposition and Conference April 8 in Washington, D.C., according to Colonel Robert B. Bailey, commander of the Nebraska Air National Guard’s 155th Air Refueling Wing.

“The Nebraska National Guard is very excited to receive such a prestigious award and to recognize the unparalleled partnership that exists between the Department of Defense, the Nebraska Military Department and the University of Nebraska,” Bailey said.

The University utilized NET’s Interactive Media Group (IMG) to take the Guard’s standard training materials and develop Web-based multimedia training modules, according to IMG Manager Terry Dugas.

“The award speaks volumes about the commitment to quality of the people working on the project and the level of collaboration between NET and the Guard,” Dugas said.

Chief Master Sgt. Teresa Clark, Air Guard, leads the Guard team working on the project. Members include: retired Master Sgt. Gary Satchell, Army Guard; retired Sgt. Maj. Steve Cavadini, U.S. Army; Tech. Sgt. Shannon Nielsen, Air Guard; Capt. Mike Akins, Army Guard; and Senior Airman Mike Masur, Air Guard.

“We couldn’t have done it alone,” Clark said. “NET has been a great partner, and we have a team with solid military experience coupled with the educational and production expertise of NET, that is the reason for our success.”

Project Manager Brad Barker leads the NET team working on the project.

Among the courses either completed or in production are: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Reporting; Sexual Harassment; Conflict Management; Combat Lifesaver; Personal Leadership Development Course; Depleted Uranium; Retirement Counselor; and Self-aid and Buddy Care.

The courses do not replace hands-on training, Barker said. Rather, they enable Guard members to acquire knowledge they need before hands-on training.

“By the time they arrive at the armory or base for hands-on training, they already have the background they need,” Barker said.

Clark agreed. “We can’t use the Web to teach a combat lifesaver the feel (of an arm), but we can use the Internet to teach them the steps to properly inset a IV needle into an arm,” Clark said.

Project ALERT — Advanced Learning Environment Research and Technology — was funded by a Congressional appropriation. Courses developed through the project may be used by National Guards in other states or the regular armed services, Dugas said.

“The object is to develop courses that are not only cost-effective,” Dugas said, “but that actually enhance the quality of learning.”

Distance learning (which the Department of Defense calls Advanced Distributed Learning, or ADL) can help the Guard retain experienced soldiers and aircrew, according to Lt. Col. Jacob Smith.

“Our vision from the very beginning has been to deliver training to our soldiers and airmen on their schedules, rather than conform to the rigid and structured classroom calendar that has been our traditional way of training,” Smith said. “We ask more and more of these fine men and women every day, and now it is time we allow them the flexibility to have a complete life that includes, but is not dominated by, their military responsibilities.”

For More Information: Chief Master Sgt. Teresa Clark, 402-309-1164, or e-mail or Brad Barker, 402-472-9333, ext. 396, or e-mail Release written by: J.W. Huttig, 402-472-9333, ext. 512, or e-mail jhuttig@unl.ed