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The Department of Distance Education

The Sergeants Major Course–Distance Learning (SMC-DL) educates senior enlisted leaders from our Army to be agile and adaptive senior noncommissioned officers through the study of leadership, the conduct of Unified Land Operations, and the application of joint, interagency, and multinational organizations in an era of persistent conflict. The SMC-DL prepares senior enlisted leaders who are on Active Duty, or in the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard to execute at all command levels throughout the Department of Defense. This Professional Military Education (PME) is provided by leveraging distance learning (DL) educational methods and technologies.

Manned with 35 instructors, who are spread over five courses the DDE team provides an education that teaches SMC-DL students how to enhance their character, self-expression, and strengthen teamwork abilities.

The SMC-DL is 18-24 months long containing instructional hours delivered through 40 hours of senior enlisted joint professional military education, 338 hours of interactive multimedia instructional (distance learning) and 120 hours of resident instructions and covers all course content delivered in the resident SMC.

"The DDE is adaptive, resilient and exciting," Jenkins said. "The best part is having an opportunity to steward this course to ensure that we maintain relevancy and are able to adapt to changing situations during the delivery of our course."

"Sgt. Maj. Elsaesser and the team made tremendous strides in developing the future model of the SMC distance learning course. I am excited to continue to guide and build-out a world class distance education program that continues to develop the best sergeants major for the Army," Jenkins said.

"The department has changed quite a bit," said Elsaesser. "The course has now eliminated the interactive multimedia instruction and has transitioned to what is referred to as the university model. Similar to the resident course, the DL course is now broken down into three phases with each phase broken down into terms that correspond with the five departments in the course: the Departments of Joint Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational (DJIIM), Command Leadership (DCL), Army Operations (DAO), Force Management (DFM), and Professional Studies (DPS).

The DDE leadership, left to right: Vice Chair, Sgt. Maj. George Elsaesser and Chair, Mr. Arthur Jenkins review the latest SMC-DL briefing.

DJIIM

The DJIIM lessons create an understanding of the broad strategic environment within individual Services and JIIM forces and capabilities. These lessons are used to build on an organizational level leader’s perspective of change, culture, ethics, and the need for influencing organizations that students will analyze.

Meet the instructors

From left to right: Team Lead Sgt. Maj. Greg Poremski and Sgts. Maj. Ryan Mosher, Meiling Konstantynowicz, Willard O'Donnell and William Powers
DJIIM instructor Sgt. Maj. Ryan Mosher (left) is providing guidance to one of his students, as Sgts. Maj. Willard O'Donnell (right) and William Powers are grading papers and ensuring the parenthetical reference is formatted in the required American Psychological Association style (APA).

DCL

The DCL curriculum is designed to enable future Sergeants Major to speak the same language as their officer counterparts and understand the thought processes they will use to provide timely and relevant input and advice when confronted with the issues and complexities of leadership at the operational and strategic levels.

Sgt. Maj. Victor K. Primas (bottom left) , DCL Team Lead stands with his team, Sgts. Maj. Jeremy Hendrix (right), Michael Henry (upper right), and Melissa Rolan (upper left). Not pictured: Keiandra Lane.

Sgt. Maj. Primas discusses the challenges of the SMC-DL.

"I think that the challenges are similar to that of every Institution of higher learning. The Asynchronous Learning Environment creates a "monologue and not a real dialogue" in the learning environment, therefore building relationships with your students requires more effort in an online environment."

"True learning always involves change; as you know, education is evolutionary," he said; "it should always evolve. Albert Einstein wrote 'the world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.''

DAO

The DAO is the foundation for the SMC. The curriculum has four areas of study: the operational environment, decisive action, mission command, and planning for unified land operations. Students study the central concept of Unified Land Operations. 

DAO instructors from left to right: Sgts. Maj. Wascar Diazhernandez (left), Team Lead, Sgt. Maj. Jason Leeworthy (center) and Robert Atkinson (right) Not pictured: Sgts. Maj. Jeffrey Nail and Marlow Parks

The DAO Team Lead, Sgt. Maj. Jason Leeworthy discusses the incorporation of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) in the online environment.

"We are employing a variety of learning activities (using Blackboard tools and current technology) to ensure DL students achieve the same learning outcomes associated with the MDMP as resident students. While an overview of MDMP is taught in the Master Leaders Course (MLC), this is the first time (in DDE Class 46) that the full SMC MDMP curriculum has been taught in a strictly DL environment. It is exciting to see the current SMC-DL curriculum is now closely aligned to the SMC resident course than ever before," Leeworthy said.

DFM

DFM provides a systematic overview of “How the Army Runs”. Students will learn the constitutional, statutory and regulatory basis for the force projection Army and the capabilities that must be sustained through management of doctrinal, organizational, and materiel change.

DFM instructors Sgts. Maj. Derrick Webb (left), Tywayne Richarson, Vickie Marsh, Team Lead Kartina Cromartie (center), Jerome Simmons, Walter Jones, and Oscar Llamas (right).

Sgt. Maj. Cromartie explains what her team provides to the DFM students.

"We provide alternative means of resourcing Soldier training requirements to accomplish Army functions and missions related to their unit and Army Command (ACOM) level management positions. While also ensuring our distance learners have the guidance, mentorship, and tools needed to complete the course," she said.

Cromartie meets with her team during the weekly DFM Sync meeting in to ensure the instructors are updated on the latest changes in curriculum to provide the DL-SMC students fair process.

DPS

The DPS is designed to allow leaders to focus on areas they wish to develop, while generating an environment where individuals analyze critical thinking assignments to develop future decision-making. The course consists of 20 lessons totaling 120 hours in Broadening Topics.

The DPS has six instructors, Sgts. Maj. Edward Mcelroy, Emanuel Myers, Valente Ortiz, Sikiru Towolawi, Jessica Wells, and Team Lead Sgt. Maj. Jason Herring.

Team Lead, Sgt. Maj. Jason Herring explains how DPS is delivered through DL.

"The DPS in DDE encourages individual freedom through reflection journals, discussion boards, and experienced written assignments. It assists in the understanding for SGM/CSM to express themselves with personal experiences to critically and creatively think through the sharing of experiences to make decisions that will impact all Soldiers in the future," he said.

DPS Instructors

The DPS instructors work with their students in many capacities. (upper left picture) Sgt. Maj. Edward Mcelroy (upper left) grades a student's paper ensuring proper APA formatting, while Sgt. Maj. Jessica Wells (Lower left) and Sgt. Maj. Valente Ortiz review a reflection journals. (upper right) Sgt. Maj. Sikiru Towolawi views the DPS rubric as he grades discussion board participation. Not pictured: Sgt. Maj. Emanuel Myers

The DDE manages the SMC-DL, that provides professional military education, in a distance learning environment, that develops enlisted leaders to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.

The NCOLCoE’s priority is to develop, integrate and deliver education and training readiness which enhances Soldier readiness.

Leaders Build Lethality, We Develop Leaders

Credits:

Danielle O'Donnell