Advanced Distributed Learning and Community

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Information & Security: An International Journal, Volume 14, p.145-155 (2004)


ADL, advanced distributed learning, anyplace, anytime, autonomy, community, distance learning, e-learning, just-in-time, SCORM, transactional distance


E-learning and Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) display the potential to provide a wide variety of information, training, and educational material to people around the world, as did the advent of television several decades ago. The subsequent development and uses of television showed that it could be applied to both inform, educate, and uplift people and to placate, distract, and manipulate; similarly, the leaders and forward thinkers in using ADL technology should consider whether or not their motivations and their strategies for implementing ADL concepts lay the foundation to free workers and soldiers to pursue autonomous learning and to deepen their understanding of “the big picture,” and their role in the communities in which they live and work.
Two current “buzz words” or phrases associated with ADL include “anytime, anyplace” and “just-in-time training.” Analyzing the application of ADL strategies in light of the implications of these phrases can help illuminate motivations and unmask side effects of various e-Learning and distance learning strategies. The Internet makes vast resources available that can free autonomous learners to broaden and deepen their understanding of their communities and the roles they have within those communities.
ADL strategies and technology implementations may be pursued in two different manners. Keeping workers and soldiers grounded in the larger picture of the enterprises in which they live and work will realize the liberating potential inherent in “anytime, anyplace.” Likewise, pursuit of implementations that channel workers and soldiers to task or mission completion in a time-critical manner, blocking opportunities for reflection and genuine learning, may encompass the worst aspects inherent in the concept of “just-in-time training.” In short, ADL can enhance or further destroy community. The way ADL technologies and concepts are implemented will deeply impact which of these two directions prevails.