Until Friday (25.08), an in-person course of the NATO Defence Education Enhancement Programme for officers of the Armed Forces of Iraq will continue in Olsztyn. They represent key entities within the military education system of this country. “The essence of the workshops organized within NATO DEEP is to acquire the ability to independently create interactive e-learning materials. This is the culmination of a series of online workshops organized since March this year,” says Assoc. Prof. Piotr Gawliczek, PhD, NATO DEEP eAcademy Director.
On Saturday (August 19th), the one-week NATO DEEP workshops began in the capital of Warmia and Mazury, focusing on supporting the transformation of the military education systems of partner countries. Currently, the programme covers 15 countries located on four continents. “As an interesting fact, I would like to mention that the time difference between the countries where we conduct classes is up to 13 hours,” admits Piotr Gawliczek. “Over three hundred different types of activities, both stationary and online, are organized annually.”
The NATO DEEP programme is based on four pillars: enhancing the skills of lecturers and trainers, developing appropriate education and training programmess, aligning organizational structures with the needs of the new teaching ecosystem, and learning the English language. “One of the strategic priorities, a kind of connecting link between these pillars, is e-learning, or remote education,” explains Prof. Gawliczek. NATO DEEP eAcademy carries out initiatives in collaboration with partners from various countries and NATO commands, such as NATO Strategic Command for Transformation, NATO Defense College in Rome, NATO School in Oberammergau, and the Partnership for Peace Consortium. A strategic partner in our region is the Polish Association for Security.
“The current project we are conducting in Olsztyn is an example to our close cooperation with the Polish Association for Security,” acknowledges the director of NATO DEEP eAcademy. “Other areas include, for example, translating NATO e-learning courses into Ukrainian, which are highly regarded and warmly received by our partners in Ukraine.” He adds: “We have the opportunity to implement NATO standards, to pave the way, as e-learning is just beginning to gain momentum in some partner countries. We have the opportunity to recommend practical actions, to bring institutions/people together so that e-learning within the armed forces is understood as an effective systemic solution, embracing the key motto: ‘anytime, anywhere’.”
However, does the Arabic language not pose a significant obstacle to the effective training of personnel and employees of the Iraqi Armed Forces using the dedicated LMS ILIAS platform, i.e. the Iraqi eLearning Portal? According to our interviewee, training for the Iraqi Armed Forces is a “particular challenge due to the specificity of the Arabic language, which is written from right to left, unlike ours.” As our interviewee points out, the Iraqi eLearning Portal (IeLP) currently has over 300 active accounts from the Iraqi Armed Forces. 29 areas have been created, each for an institution within the military education system.
Ultimately, all officers, non-commissioned officers, and employees of the Iraqi Armed Forces will have accounts on the platform, in line with the concept of remote education implementation in the Iraqi Armed Forces. This includes the pivotal “eLearning Centre,” an independent entity of the University of Defense in Baghdad. What results do such training programs yield? “A good example is Ukraine.
One of the effects of implementing NATO DEEP recommendations was the establishment of the ‘eLearning Centre of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,’ which was created within the structures of the National Defense University in Kyiv,” says Marcin Jóźwiak, Deputy Director of NATO DEEP eAcademy for academic affairs. “Interestingly, training personnel and ensuring proper standards took many years and effort on both sides. Currently, specialists from the mentioned center often act as experts supporting other partner countries of the NATO DEEP program. This is due to their broad practical knowledge of remote education. Most importantly, Ukraine’s remote education system for the Armed Forces is proving effective even in wartime conditions.” Each year, almost three thousand people are covered by the NATO DEEP program, for instance, in 2022, there were 2901 participants.
The initiatives under the program take various forms, including online activities on the BigBlueButton video conferencing platform, while face-to-face meetings like those in Olsztyn hold particular significance. “When a country joins NATO, it is no longer covered by the DEEP program,” emphasizes Piotr Gawliczek, Director of NATO DEEP eAcademy. “We feel a particular joy when a partner country meets all the criteria and formal expectations for becoming a member of the Alliance. This situation occurred some time ago with North Macedonia.”
The essence of the current workshops organized within NATO DEEP is the practical learning of skills for creating e-learning materials. This is the culmination of a series of online meetings. Our primary tool is the Iraq eLearning Portal, which houses the resources. Participants will gain competencies in using applications like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and Articulate 360. Prof. Gawliczek emphasizes that the Polish Association for Security supports NATO DEEP eAcademy with its potential, and similar initiatives will be carried out in Olsztyn for other countries in the future.
“Our association was established over 20 years ago in Olsztyn,” says Jarosław Tokarczyk, Director of the Polish Association for Security. “The main goal was to counteract kidnappings for ransom. However, the world is changing, and so are security needs. Even the impact of the war in Ukraine causes us to face different threats now. There are also threats brought by civilization, such as cybercrime or broadly defined terrorism. Our association evolves – from regional to nationwide.” He adds: “Our activities go beyond not only the region but also the borders of Poland. A prime example is the initiative for the Iraqi Armed Forces, where the training staff is international. There are representatives from Georgia, Latvia, and North Macedonia. Our strategic partner in the realm of education is NATO DEEP eAcademy, with which we have already carried out several projects. We are extremely pleased that, apart from the substantive layer, we can host such distinguished individuals from our country and the world, showcasing the charms of our region in the process.”