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Pentagon Course To Test Virtual World

Feb. 1, 2013 - 10:31AM   |  
By MICHAEL PECK   |   Comments
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The Pentagon’s mandatory human trafficking course will be a testbed for an experimental virtual world for the Joint Knowledge Online (JKO) training system.

The goal is to test whether a virtual world is a more efficient delivery method than the current practice of using the classified SIPRnet and the unclassified NIPRnet and Internet Public Portal, according to JKO deputy program manager Marty Vozzo. The virtual world would be cloud-based and accessible over the Web.

The Combating Traffic in Persons course was chosen first because it is high-volume: all Department of Defense military and civilian personnel must take the training, which takes about an hour to complete. There were 36,000 course completions last year.

The virtual world test will be conducted in the spring, before final evaluation by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness. Users will take the normal CTIP course online, but when they come to the last of the eight training modules they will be unknowingly and seamlessly transferred to a virtual world.

CTIP is a mixture of multiple-choice questions, audio, and Flash video, including “some pretty graphic pictures” of what happens to women and children who are victims of human trafficking, Vozzo said. It is designed to acquaint users with Department of Defense regulations and policy regarding human trafficking. While the basic content of the course won’t change, how it is delivered and how the student will access it will be.

“It will be very similar to a MMO [massive multiplayer online] construct,” Vozzo said. “The virtual world does consist of an avatar that the student can maneuver to interact with various scenarios.”

“We are testing the hypothesis that a virtual world framework may be less expensive, may be more efficient, easier to develop and easier to sustain in the long run,” Vozzo said.

The virtual world will be developed by Orlando-based Engineering and Computer Simulations, which previously created the Nexus world for the National Guard Bureau. Vozzo estimated the price of the JKO virtual world at around $500,000.

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