Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Application of OBTE Principles by Randal Wickman

These are my notes from Ltc Randal Wickman’s presentation, “BCT—A Success Story (Application of OBTE Principles)” during the 2011 Intellectual Warrior’s Conference at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on April 12th.

“I am not an educator by trade, I am a commander”

We want operational adaptability: flexibility, critical thinkers, make sound decisions
– Net-gen students: collaborative, work well with peer learning

Army learning concept: as early as 2012
– want to come up with 21st century soldier competencies
– character and accountability, comprehensive fitness, adaptability and initiative, lifelong learner, teamwork and collaboration, communication and engagement, critical thinking and problem solving, culture and JIIM competence, tactical and technical competence


SMART Training Andragogy:
– Army employs SMART training to:
— maintain or increase trainee’s retained knowledge
— increase the trainee’s ability to think critically and make sound decisions
— increase cognizance and agility under stress
— develop trainees’ natural leadership skill sets earlier

Framing the expectation set is critical
– saying you’ll be tested immediately on a skill, versus saying you’ll be tested much later on this skill, literally causes the brain to save the information in a different place

Why do we teach (in basic training) 40 days straight of first aid, 20 days of marksmanship?
– tell people if you had a good idea, I would have issued it to you?

We don’t already do this


Soldiers are not going to apply things in isolation and separately in the field, so we should not teach them that way

The Change Curve – reactions
– satisfaction – I’m as happy as I am
– denial – this isn’t relevant to my work
– resistance (we are here)
– exploration
– hope
– commitment

Our Andragogy has six elements now
– principles
– adaptive learning model
– millennial learners
– efficiency
– cadre resilience
– agile resourcing

consider the multi-tasking capabilities of our students
– think of your driver in theater
– average basic training trainee multi-tasks in four things

1- produce the same (or better) quality of trainee
2- emphasize millennial student learning styles
3- training management: maximize efficiency and use time wisely
4- enable and enforce cadre resilence

applying skills in context is the KEY (not about skill performance in isolation, out of context)
– we don’t cue the context in all cases: “this is a context”

there is almost no time for training development now with the deployment cycles

many of our drill instructors are running 18 hour days, 6 days per week

Adaptive Learning Model
1- break module blocks apart; re-combine deliberately
2- train multiple subjects in a day and week
3- re-visit and reinforce the complex modules
4- increase rigor with each iteration
5- enable adaptability and mental agility
6- focus on desired outcome; not time or process
— does not increase overall time or resources
— does not reduce need for obedience or discipline

In a single day, trainees review multiple skills
– much like millennials on the Internet
– average millennial learner today has a fifty minute attention span (you can talk at them for 8 hours, but they will stop listening)
– millennial learner can competently perform four different tasks

key question: what is the terminal learning objective?
– new concept for many drill sergeants and quality assurance folks
– conditions can be varied by

drill sergeants become a mobile classroom in any environment

Millennial Learners
1- multi-task, single subjects for long periods is boring
2- use a greater variety of learning tools: millennials respond to audio, video, contextual, practical
3- collaborative: use peer-to-peer coaching and learning, use peer coaches to teach concurrent training
4- consider the learning bell curve: teach to the upper %
5- be willing to let some go, the lower 10%

Army has a tendency to focus on 100%
– when you train down and are unwilling to let anyone go, you are training to the lowest common denominator rather than teaching up to higher standards

1- train multiple subjects each day, multiple in a week
2- maximize concurrent and round robin training
3- use other program of instruction events as concurrent training
4- group complementary training events together (shoot, move, communicate, and medicate)
5- reward innovation and working ahead
6- Enable cadre resilience through peer-to-peer learning

Cadre Resilience
1- use the trained peer coaches
2- remember the drill sergeant and their family
3- goal: no major training events on weekends
4- goal: schedule major training events only: maintain training agility
5- enable and enforce: Quality of life, Army Family Covenant, NCO Education System

If you would train for combat in 10 weeks, would you setup BCT the same way?
– a commander would not, a scheduler might

Agile resourcing
1- break the modules apart, leave room for Murphy, weather, range resource issues, re-training
2- schedule only major events: fill white space with ‘stand-alone’ training, be efficient
3- re-training & reinforcement training; spiral back to necessary subjects
4- reward working ahead
5- very few true pre-requisites in the course map, what makes sense to the trainers?

At the end of the day: Terminal Learning Objectives are the key


You can:
– empower trainees to be responsible for their own development
– be willing to let the bottom 10% go

Increasing number of times students have been exposed to content and curriculum
– challenges trainees ability to think, think critically: “What are you going to do now, lieutenant?” We need to do this with basic trainees now. “What are you doing now, private.”
– if you can explain your thinking verbally, you’ll remember your learning better on the modern day battlefield

Lots of focus on leadership in the Army Learning Concepts
– our soldiers are often one heartbeat away from being in charge
– we can’t wait to talk about leadership to later schools

You can compel compliance, but before yelling see if you can use it for an opportunity to teach
– ask questions
– coaching vs direct instructions

Caliber of our instruction and drill instructors have had to come up / increase with this change in philosophy

Very powerful story: comparative scenario response comparison between BCT grads from traditional versus new approach
– traditional group: not taking initiative, waiting for drill sergeant input
– group which learned with more peer collaboration / coaching: took the initiative, divided group roles based on skills, responded to the scenarios

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