MADISON, Wis.– In January, the University of Wisconsin (UW) System and the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) joined forces with the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Collaborative Laboratory. Five other leading universities today announced that they have joined the partnership.

Pennsylvania State University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Nebraska and the University of Washington have all agreed to participate in the effort. They will:

  • Support the development and implementation of national technical standards for distributed learning;
  • Share research and development information focused specifically on network-based distributed learning; and
  • Contribute to efforts that enhance quality, reduce costs and promote the development of interoperable content and distributed learning systems.

The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative is intended to develop, demonstrate and evaluate the next generation of learning technologies that enable web-based learning, also known as “distributed learning.” The vision of the ADL partners is to provide access to the highest quality education and training that can be tailored to individual needs and delivered cost effectively, anywhere and anytime.

Three collaborative laboratories (Co-Labs) were established, including the main lab in Alexandria, Virginia and two nodes: in Orlando, Fla. and at the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Pyle Center in Madison, Wis. As the Academic ADL Co-Lab, the Madison facility acts as the focal point for the nation’s universities and colleges.

The Department of Defense is a major consumer in the education arena, spending approximately $14 billion per year on classroom education for its 3 million active duty and reserve military and civilian personnel around the world.

Michael Parmentier, a senior adviser to the Secretary of Defense for training, lauds the effort by the UW System and WTCS to expand the essential collaborative efforts with some of the pre-eminent academic institutions to help the nation create the future learning environment. “This important work will move education, training and performance mentoring to all of America’s citizens anytime and anywhere, increasing the nation’s competitive advantage,” he said.

The DoD wants to expand its educational opportunities and enhance performance for the nation’s service men and women by offering on-line education and training.

Both the UW System and WTCS have been developing web-based instruction to serve the education and training needs of the students served by both systems.

“Our initiative will provide a means for learning materials developed by brilliant teachers in the military, the corporate environment and the university classroom to become accessible to all,” said Ed Meachen, associate vice president for learning and information technology at the UW System. “Our research and development efforts will transform education as we know it and will be greatly enhanced by collaboration with other leading universities.”

“We are currently in negotiation with additional institutions and expect that others will join us in the future,” added Meachen.

“The research and development happening here will be a focal point for partnerships with leaders in business and industry, government and all levels of education,” said Judy Brown, emerging technology analyst and director of the Academic ADL Co-Lab in Madison. “By coordinating and focusing the work of our partners on a common goal, we will serve as the proving ground for the technology to support the lifelong learning needs of a changing society.”

For more information on the Academic ADL Co-Lab, visit, or see for details on the ADL initiative.


Judy Brown, UW System
(608) 263-9270

James Urness, WTCS
(608) 266-1739