The Bayonet

Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013

Language center moves to ‘.edu’

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WASHINGTON — By September, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, Calif., will have switched its computer network from the “.mil” top-level-domain to the “.edu” top-level-domain.

The effort, ongoing now since 2011, is expected to help improve the efficiency of the language learning process at the school house.

A student’s use of time is affected by what domain he or she does their computing on, and is related to the security requirements in place on their computing network. The .mil top-level domain, or TLD, run by the military and part of the “Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network,” or NIPRNET, is much more secure than most commercial networks. Those necessary security requirements sometimes make the use of specialty language-learning software and related hardware both difficult and time-consuming.

“Anyone who has ever studied a language knows that the more you practice, the faster you pick it up,” Jonathan Russell, the chief technology information officer at the school, wrote in an email. “We have precious little time, 26-64 weeks depending on the language, to get our students to a level of fluency equivalent to that of a master’s graduate from a civilian university, so time-on-task is vitally important.”

Students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, or DLIFLC, currently have access to databases, dictionaries, keyboard font settings, speech recognition software, video platforms and flash card apps.

Those same students are also now using more mobile education technology, with students and teachers receiving iPads and a laptop. There are also now some 800 interactive whiteboards for use in classrooms. DLIFLC plans to eliminate the need for laptops and move completely to a mobile computing environment by fiscal year 2016.

Today, integrating both specialty software and portable hardware with the NIPRNET environment is difficult, Russell said. Software must be approved for Army-wide use before it can be installed. Even applications built at the DLIFLC must run the gamut of approval before deployment on NIPRNET-connected machines. And each piece of hardware must also be approved before connection to the military network.

Using the .edu network will eliminate some of those problems. Moving to an educational network will also increase bandwidth at DLIFLC, Russell said. And that is good for the mission.

The DLIFLC uses streaming video to bring both language and culture into the classroom, Russell said. Using the educational network, students will also be able to shoot their own videos and upload them for homework assignments more easily.

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