09:09 AM

A New Chapter: Cutting-Edge Online Learning System Launches Today for CAP Members

Paul South
Contributing Writer

A new chapter in Civil Air Patrol’s mission to educate its more than 63,000 members opens today with the launch of a new online learning system.

The new Learning Management System (LMS), called Axis, replaces the online system that served CAP for the past several years. Developed in response to the evolution of technological devices, the new system is compatible with the latest smartphones, pads and other technology.

Jared Peregoy is the learning design manager for CAP and the point person for the rollout of Axis, developed by New Jersey-based Atrixware.

“The big thing that’s different from what we’ve had before is it’s a modern responsive system. It’s designed to work on different-sized screens, different phones, if someone’s going to do this on their phones or tablet devices, that sort of thing,” Peregoy said.

Annually, some 42,000 members use Civil Air Patrol’s learning management system, he said. With Axis now on line, he hopes that number will grow.

“We have about 10,000 (members online) a month. I hope that number will go up,” Peregoy said. “I’d like to double it.”

Today, when members go onto the LMS, they’ll see a banner at the top of the page reading “Go to Axis.” Members who go into the new system on launch day will receive a digital badge to celebrate the occasion, giving it a video game feel.

The Axis system enhances members’ online experience.

“It’s a more robust platform,” Peregoy said. “It gives us more opportunity to do more online. So as people decide they want to put more content out there and start some of the different functional areas and begin to develop new training, they’ll be able to develop it for this new system.”

“We really needed the ability for it to automate a lot of those processes, so if someone needs access to something, we need them to be able to get that access based on their member type, or their level or grade or whatever it is. This system provided the most functionality for automating all of those parts.

“So, we’ve got a combination of more responsive design, a more user-friendly interface and all of that functionality on the back end that makes it a fit for our organization.”

What helped drive the system change?

“We knew as an organization that we wanted to be able to provide more online and hybrid offerings, where some of the work is online and some in person,” Peregoy said. “In order to really scale up and do that, we wanted a more modern tool. That’s really what spawned it.

“We wanted to provide a better user experience, a better learning experience for the members, and we felt the best way to do that was to get a new system.”

The online courses will be tailor-made for every member demographic.

Three courses are available online today — the Basic Instructor Course, Aircraft Ground Handling and Introductory Communications User Training, or ICUT. But by summer’s end, some 200 courses will be available online, aimed at training members across the board, from junior cadets to command staff.

“They’re a little bit entry-level, but that’s OK, because everyone in the organization can take these courses. That’s why we made them available first,” Peregoy said. “These offerings are tailored to everyone from cadets to senior members. A lot is not new content. It’s a new engine driving it.

“There will be new content, but what we’re getting out initially is stuff that’s on the Learning Management System now, it will be available on the new system. Beginning with three courses now, but every two weeks throughout the summer, more courses will be available. And we’ll also be developing new content.”

New offerings will be generated not only from National Headquarters but also from CAP’s Leadership Development Working Group and from individual wings to meet the ever-changing needs of members. Col. Regena Aye, North Central Region commander, leads the Leadership Development Working Group.

Aye brings a unique perspective to the new learning system. Like Peregoy, who has served in instructional systems at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia as well as Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama, Aye is also involved in instructional systems. She teaches instructional design and performance technology as a professor at the Baker University Graduate School of Education in Overland Park, Kansas.

“I think the new technology that they have acquired is absolutely amazing,” Aye said. “The organization has invested in a very high-quality LMS that’s going to enable us to continue to transform our professional development and training programs to make them more engaging, to modernize how we teach and learn in the organization.“I think it can only reap amazing benefits for Civil Air Patrol that they have made these investments in personnel and in a LMS to take the organization into the next phase of its organization and training efforts.”

Online learning offers unlimited visibility, tearing down the limitations of traditional education and making learning more democratic and more economically and geographically accessible. It’s part of a commitment to raising the bar on training and professional development across the board. It’s also part of a drive to create a more diverse organization.

Both are among CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith’s priorities, Aye said.

“Anything that makes education more accessible helps with diversity and helps with the geographic space in our country ... Distance education always has the opportunity to bring more options to people in those smaller areas and individuals rather than groups. Online education levels things out a little bit,” she said.

While the new system is exciting, what matters most are Civil Air Patrol members, Peregoy said.

“This is an organization that’s relying on its members. It’s a people organization. So if this benefits those people, and those people benefit the organization, then it follows that it will help the mission.”

He added, “The organization is committed to trying to provide a modern, responsive online learning system and we are doing our best to provide that to our members. As they think about that, we want them to know that’s part of what CAP is trying to accomplish — to provide them with the tools they need to succeed in the field, in the world and as part of Civil Air Patrol.”