The U.S. Army has a new weapon in its recruiting-and- retention war: E-learning. Army University Access Online will let soldiers earn college degrees and technical certifications while serving Uncle Sam. PricewaterhouseCoopers received a $453 million contract to develop the program, slated for a limited rollout in mid- January. The Army expects the E-learning program to reach80,000 soldiers during the next five years.
With record numbers of potential soldiers going to college instead, Army recruiting has been an uphill battle--and classroom-based training doesn't fit with most soldiers' schedules.
"Right now our message is, 'If you want education, come into the Army for a little while and leave.' That's not a very good way to retain people," Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera says. He hopes E-learning will address that problem and dispel some Hollywood stereotypes as well. "People may think that [the Army] is low-tech, and about crawling in the mud and having someone yell at you," Caldera says. "No, this is a very technology-oriented education Army. We're repositioning the Army in the minds of young people. We are the kind of organization that invests in its workforce."
For E-learning content and delivery, PricewaterhouseCoopers is working with 29 accredited higher-education institutions as well as companies such as Saba Software, PeopleSoft, and Blackboard.