Designer of JAG Corps e-learning system earns award

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

7/29/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Combining the latest technology with the educational needs at the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School earned a Maxwell major the Air Force Productivity Award earlier this month.

Maj. David Houghland, chief of the Air Reserve Component Training, designed the web-based learning management system CAPSIL to advance the distance education curriculum throughout the JAG Corps. CAPSIL is now used by more than 95 percent of the JAG Corps, registering more than 2 million hits and visits by more than 1,300 users each month.

The system maintains more than 250 learning centers with 10 eCourses and more than 90 webcasts available to users worldwide.

"CAPSIL is an amazing learning tool because it provides members of the JAG Corps with immediate training on the latest legal issues at any time and any place," said Col. Holly Stone, school commandant.

She recommended Houghland for the award, which saved the JAG Corps more than $3 million the first year following CAPSIL's release in 2008.

"This award is very significant because it recognizes Maj. Houghland's amazing combination of skills as an attorney, programmer and instructor," she said. "(CAPSIL has) led to huge efficiencies. The school is bringing the training to the field rather than the attorneys and paralegals traveling to Maxwell."

Expanding and improving distance education was a primary reason Houghland applied for his current position at Maxwell.

"I came in here with an idea of seeing where we can go in the JAG Corps with distance education," he said. "I looked into several systems for improving efficiency and believed we could develop a system that fit our business processes and needs."
Originally, evaluations, course assignments, reports and surveys were conducted manually. Now they are handled using CAPSIL, reducing processing time by as much as 75 percent.

For the school, CAPSIL holds e-classes and web seminars, and allows students to submit assignments through the network. An additional 10,000 students a year can now take courses through distance learning, increasing education throughout the JAG Corps without adding travel costs.

"It is very cost-effective training because it provides targeted training to attorneys and paralegals in the field, direct from the legal education specialists," Stone said. "As a result, legal professionals are able to provide our commanders with up-to-date legal advice."

For the JAG Corps, it's a continually updating resource that can adapt according to its users' needs.

Using the latest technology, CAPSIL increases efficiency through a network of instant updates. For example, users can bookmark reference material. When that material is updated in CAPSIL, it will automatically update for each user, no matter where the resource is stored in the system.

Since updates are made instantly, people are no longer emailing amendments and changes, printing new guides or searching through outdated documents.

"The system can be expanded to almost anything, depending on the imagination of the users," Houghland said. "We're able to do things rapidly to accommodate our needs."

Earlier this month, the Air Force Productivity Excellence Award recognized four individuals who made substantial improvements in the quality and productivity of operations through suggestions, special acts or other management initiatives which resulted in savings of at least $1 million. The military members are authorized to wear the Air Force Recognition Ribbon.

Houghland said he is honored to be recognized by the Air Force.

"Where I pride myself is creativity," he said. "Creativity is critical today, and this award recognized the importance of ideas."