Hansen's CTC-3 adapts 21st century technology, innovating to enhance student learning

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler Andrews
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler Andrews

Hansen's CTC-3 adapts 21st century technology, innovating to enhance student learning

by Cpl. Tyler Andrews, Gunnery Sgt. Caitlin Brink and Sgt. Megan Roses
III Marine Expeditionary Force

CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, JAPAN – U.S. Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, stated, "The ones who can adapt faster have a huge advantage. That's agility of the mind, which we press into Marine leaders all the time.” The Marines of Communication Training Command-3, Communication Training Battalion, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, put the commandants’ words into action by creating an app that enhances training, productivity, and readiness.

CTC-3 provides various levels of communication and ground electronic maintenance training for Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force. U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Kristian Conroy, director of CTC-3, created a computer application to serve as a centralized location to store and access student data, streamlining decision making and optimizing course scheduling.

“The nature of the digital system has opened an avenue to administrative error correction not previously possible via logical filtering rules,” said Conroy. “For example, a graph that shows students in a not available status for their course result can be filtered to remove the only cases where this could be administratively correct such as a cancelled course. We were able to clean up a good bit of old benign admin errors this way so far.”

The CTC app is bridging the pre-existing technology gap between Microsoft Power BI and U.S. Marine Corps systems’ data collection procedures. The use of these two systems reduces manhours, allowing extra time to be allocated to teaching students and fostering a more advanced and strategically trained generation of Marines within the communications field. 

“The new method further streamlines the day-to-day administrative processing while making data collection a near entirely automated background process that is functionally always feeding into flexible up-to-date data visualizations for decision making,” said Conroy.

The app gives instructors not only the ease of compiling this information, but the additional manhours to apply the data in a way that impacts classroom instruction.

Data such as attendance, grades, and student or instructor feedback are all inputted through the CTC-3 app. This data is then pulled into the Microsoft Power BI system where CTC-3 may use graphs and data during leadership and instructor briefs, while reducing manual work necessary to produce reports.

“Identified attendance trends enable prioritized scheduling and advertising efforts to maximize attendance potential and shift resources to more in demand courses,” said Conroy. “Student feedback and grades give a good internal assessment to compare with supervisor feedback enabling us to assess our effective learning outcomes.”

This app allows CTC-3 instructors to input and access student feedback, grades, and demographics so they may better support and teach the student Marines within the communications field.

“It has already been green lit to be implemented across all three CTCs which will standardize the administration and data collection processes,” said Conroy. “Once this phase is completed and the data availability has increased over 2-fold, we will be able to better identify trends that will enable data driven policy decision making.”

“For example, implementation of a new training paradigm or introduction of a new subject matter at one CTC will be assessable very quickly as classes at the other two CTCs, and historical data act as control groups by which to measure the impacts of the recent change,” said Conroy. “The new system has the ability to impact scheduling protocols, testing protocols, subject matter prioritization, teaching protocols and effectively everything else that has measurable data metrics with which to derive trends from.”

Leadership and instructors at the CTC are focusing their efforts to meet the 21st Century Learning objectives laid out by retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Joel R. Powers, and in turn strengthen the Corps’ training and education pipeline and create a learning environment that best prepares Marines to meet the demands of the operational environment.

According to Powers in his 2020 article, 21st Century Learning, data collected for individual learners can help inform talent management functions, tailor future learning experiences, and assess a Marine’s competencies. He said the learner centric experience within 21CL focuses on teaching Marines how to think more than what to think. It is also understanding the way a Marine learns best and how to tailor the content and delivery to address his or her needs.

With help from the app, CTC doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership, personnel, facilities, and policy are being revised through “assessing outcome-based learning, enabling career-length [professional military education] models, increasing Marine comfort with modern information age practices, storage and analysis of learning data for both individual Marines and units, rich data for performance assessments, and data that is discoverable and exposed to analytics tools,” said Conroy.

While the leaders, instructors and students within CTC-3 experience the cultural shift of becoming more data-oriented, CTC-3 has shown measurable improvements in the tempo and quality of their decision making. The impact of the CTC app is directly linked to subject matter prioritization, scheduling, testing, and teaching efficiencies. As a direct result, CTC-3’s decision-making may now be based off tangible data versus intangibles.

“Historically, decision making in the U.S. Marine Corps has been done anecdotally, because there weren't tools to analyze data in an efficient way,” said Conroy. “CTC-3 has been utilizing a crawl, walk, run approach. CTC-3 is still in the crawl phase, getting used to briefing from data, we no longer speak based on assumptions, but on what the data says.”

Moving forward, CTC-3 can better align to U.S. Marine Corps’ mission and doctrines by developing the talents of the future fleet Marine force and adopting, “modern digital tools, processes, and analytics, consistent with industry standards.” as stated within Talent Management 2030. CTC-3 adapting to their app provides the 06XX community with trained and ready Marines.

Photo caption:

U.S. Marines with Communication Training Command-3, Communication Training Battalion, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, utilize the CTC-3 organic app and Microsoft Power BI interface during a weekly leadership brief on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, May 18, 2023. The CTC-3 app was created by CTC-3 leadership to bridge pre-existing data collection gaps in training battalion. CTC-3 provides various levels of communication and ground electronic maintenance training for Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force. 

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