Learning Systems is a specialised area of expertise when it comes to the Australian Defence learning environment. Effective learning in this environment requires the application of certain processes that are delivered through educational analysis and evaluation, instructional design models and learning strategies, delivery methods and tools. The positive experience of learners is constantly at the forefront whilst ensuring workplace performance needs are achieved. The ADF has developed a learning systems model that applies the ADDIE (Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) educational model, through the Systems Approach to Defence Learning or SADL.

What is the SADL framework exactly?
The Systems Approach to Defence Learning is a learning framework used by the Australian Defence Force in all their learning and development areas. The system has 5 distinct phases that are undertaken within a framework of continuous improvement. These are indicated in the diagram below:

Analysis. This aims to determine individual and collective performance needs, based on the capability demand, the tasks involved and the learning outcomes required. It clearly defines the performance gap between current and desired performance in the workplace.

Design. Curriculum is designed to support each of the tasks identified during the analysis phase. The building blocks of the curriculum are learning outcomes which describe the conditions, standards, delivery methods, and assessment criteria required to close the performance gap. 

Development. Learning support materials, including e-Learning products, are developed in this phase, aligning with the previously designed learning outcomes. Learning environments and exercise scenarios are also confirmed. 

Implementation. This involves the delivery of training events, including the preparation, ongoing programming, administration, conduct, assessment and recording of training. It also includes the learning review process. 

Evaluation. This phase determines whether learning has been achieved, how well training has transferred into the workplace and establishing if the performance gap has been resolved.

What is the benefit of SADL?
The SADL model is designed to enable change and improvement to the way learning is designed and delivered to ADF personnel. The inputs and outputs of each phase are reviewed, evaluated, and revised as necessary. This process allows changes to be made to learning activities as a result of internal or external evaluation, lessons, and force modernisation activities.

Scott Clothier is a senior Learning and Development Consultant with Systematiq and brings over 35 years of training experience associated with Defence. His understanding of the Systems Approach to Defence Learning (SADL) is second to none. 

“SADL is a very efficient learning methodology that makes working on a new project less ambiguous. Right at the onset, it helps us understand how many resources it would take to complete the task and how long it would take to get the job done.”

Why was it developed?
The Systems Approach to Defence Learning (SADL) was designed to ensure that all Defence workforce performance requirements are correctly specified and supported by the most cost-effective learning strategies. Compliance with the SADL ensures that responsibilities and accountabilities are well-defined, that Defence appointments responsible for every process and decision are clear, and their actions and decisions are correctly documented. – Department of Defence 2013, Defence Learning Manual, CoA.

In order to prepare combat-capable forces, leaders must systematically analyse the training needs and then design and develop training that is focused clearly on achieving specific outcomes. 

Force leaders must ensure that training is developed to integrate lessons from previous operations and training, and that rigour is applied to capturing lessons through relevant review processes. By building in a constant improvement methodology, this captures changes in the environment and allows for constant improvement to always remain relevant.

How is it used?
Examples of how the SADL framework has been used can be demonstrated by some projects that Scott has been involved with directly. As part of his impressive work repertoire, Scott was the Australian Army’s lead on the working group to rewrite the SADL, the doctrine and guidelines for the Australian Defence Force Training System. 

The goal of the project was to amalgamate the training system doctrine of the 3 Defence services Army, Navy, and Air Force into one- the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Training System. 

Scott also assisted with the set-up of the new ADF Training System School. He led 2 of the 3 trials for the new courses being developed for the training systems practitioners-the ADF Training Designers and the ADF Training Developers. 

“Through the application of SADL, we were able to work together as a team, resolve conflict, and overcome tension and difference in opinions to achieve the end goal of the project.”

Scott has also utilised the SADL framework for a different project with Army Headquarters (AHQ) to streamline practices and increase efficiencies in course delivery.

“AHQ was looking for a modernised way of delivering a particular course within the Signals Corps Training continuum. We were tasked with the responsibility of bringing changes to the residential training course in Melbourne that wasn’t achieving the desired outcome. The students who registered for the course found the requirement of being away from home for the 6-month training period, extremely difficult.”

To achieve the results set, Scott and the team undertook intensive analysis to offer several solutions to the client. Employing the use of the SADL methodology was key to ensuring positive results throughout the entire project. 

“Through SADL, we were able to modernise the training course delivery, trim down the learning outcomes, while still keeping the students interested in the course they undertook.”

This approach allowed Systematiq to better understand the issues around extended centralised residential training for the Subject 4 Corporal ECN 665 course and explore solutions to deliver the curriculum remotely, by utilising Technology-Enabled Learning (TEL).  

The final solution offered to the AHQ included a fully distributed and flexible attainment delivery 
method for the Subject 4 CPL RASIGS ECN 665 course that met the client’s strategic goals for Army in Motion.

If you are looking for experts in SADL methodology for your training needs, get in touch with one of our Defence Business Development Team today.