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Improving Battlefield System Usability


OBJECTIVE: Redesign battlefield systems to reduce the classroom training requirements, include the use of automated/embedded training tools, and make the systems highly intuitive to the user community. DESCRIPTION: A primary goal to be achieved in the shift to the"Mission Command"concept is enabling individuals at Company and below to perform tasks that are currently being performed by staff at higher echelons. A major challenge to achieving this goal is that individuals at Company and below are not generally as well trained as staff at the upper echelon when it comes to the operation of battlefield systems employed for decision support. In addition, unlike at higher echelons the lower echelon users would not typically be using the systems in a dedicated role; most individuals are likely to be occasional and spontaneous users. Providing classroom training for all prospective users at Company and below poses several problems: - The logistics of training the much larger group of lower echelon users is complicated - Individuals tend to quickly forget what they"ve been taught in the classroom unless they use it immediately and frequently - Training material would need to cater to an audience with varying degrees of prerequisite training, abilities and job functions This topic requires a study of current battlefield systems and recommending techniques for making them easy to learn and use by Company and below personnel. These personnel are assumed to understand their mission tasks but would not be afforded the opportunity to obtain classroom training before being asked to use a system to accomplish their task. Building automated training capabilities into the systems themselves enables: - Training can be performed anywhere the systems are deployed, and at any time (solves logistics problem) - Retraining at any time, focusing explicitly on aspects of systems of immediate concern to users (solves forgetting problem) - Users can learn at their own pace; the automated training software may be developed to accommodate different experience levels and cater to different job functions or prior training typically associated with those functions (solves variety problem) PHASE I: Recommendations on: - How to make battlefield system user interfaces more intuitive and task focused - Techniques for bundling user training as part of any software application - Techniques for tailoring automated training to match the ability, experience level, task and job function of the prospective user PHASE II: Build a new generation of battlefield systems that implement the recommendations from Phase I and could be deployed at Company Command Posts. Phase II plan should include user evaluation events as well as feedback sessions with TRADOC and Program of Record Subject Matter Experts. PHASE III: Commercialize the solution by extending the capability beyond the tactical domain and into multiple public and private sector software solutions. System should be designed to ensure that it can be applied to multiple domains with little modifications. REFERENCES: 1. 2.
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