Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a 4-part series about Ted Stevens Center’s School for Arctic and Climate Security Studies courses.
In the fast-evolving landscape of virtual education for security practitioners, a dedicated team of Department of Defense civilians and contractors work tirelessly behind the screens to ensure the seamless execution of the Ted Stevens Center’s School for Arctic and Climate Security Studies online courses.
Since their initial launch in 2022 the Arctic Regional Security Orientation Course and the Arctic Multidomain Legal Course have undergone significant transformations to provide a quality learning environment to participants. This is thanks to a team of individuals who operate in the shadows, ensuring every detail is taken care of from cradle to grave.
At the forefront of participant registration stands Beth Copes, who is the participant programs manager. As the longest serving member of the team her expertise has been critical since the inception of the center’s online courses. Over the course of a year and a half she has worked tirelessly to build a network of alumni by working with various military training managers, educational and government organizations to fill seats for each and every course.
For Copes ensuring all of the available seats are filled for each course is critical. When sudden changes happen, such as no-shows, Copes springs into action following up with participants to ensure course seats can be filled as quickly as possible so individuals who are on the waitlist can attend a course.
“Coordination is very fluid since our pool of people is based on their ability and availability,” explained Copes. “Even up until the start day of each course we are adding and dropping participants right to the last minute because sometimes life happens and availability changes.”
Since many of the participants are located in other time zones and other Arctic countries this can mean additional morning and late-night coordination for Copes to ensure each course has maximum participation.
Assisting Copes is Connor Keesecker, who is the deputy registrar/deputy support. The duo is responsible for vetting and managing the influx of security practitioners who are eager to enhance their skills and knowledge. Their meticulous attention to detail ensures a smooth registration process, allowing participants to seamlessly transition into the virtual classroom environment.
“As the deputy registrar it’s making sure that you’re being consistent with people and making sure there is a process in place,” explained Keesecker. “Participants should have a proper idea of what to expect out of the experience that they’ve signed up for. It’s also important for them to know that they have somebody who is behind the scenes able to help them out with any issues they may have or to answer any questions they have about the course.”
The technical expert behind the scenes is Jason Roe, who serves as a media and communications specialist, orchestrating the intricate digital logistics of the courses. From the smooth operation of paneled discussions to the flawless transitions to break-out sessions, Roe’s technical prowess ensures that the virtual courses run like a well-oiled machine.
“My role is to serve as the Zoom host,” Roe said. “I drive all of the slides and videos for each course. I download all of slides and content from the speakers and presenters and ensure they are in a usable format since slides can have issues when moving them from a PC to a MAC and vice versa. Changes happen up until the morning of the course, so this means I wake up early to have all of the slides downloaded and ready to go. During the course I help the different speakers, presenters, and participants share their screens and ensure breakout sessions run smooth.”
Roe’s role is critical, as any glitch in the system could disrupt the flow of instruction and collaboration among participants. One of the ways Roe ensure smooth operations for each course is by running the course on multiple computers.
“If one computer should lose the connection to Zoom, I still have a way that I can keep the course going and it seems seamless,” Roe explained. “I actually experienced this a couple of times, but no one ever noticed because I had built redundancies into the process. I also have other members of the team help with hosting so if I lose power or internet connection the course will not be impacted.”
Since the inception of these virtual courses, the team has faced numerous challenges and opportunities for improvement.
Christine Duprow, who is the curriculum developer for the center, has been a driving force with course improvement and development. Leading a small team of subcontractors, she transforms ideas into comprehensive learning modules tailored to meet the unique needs of security practitioners and military personnel.
For Duprow her duties go beyond curriculum development, she also manages a pool of course speakers, moderators, panelists, and breakout group facilitators. For each and every course she ensures that all of the subject matter expert roles are filled to match the course agenda.
Duprow’s work led to the development of multiple versions of the Arctic Regional Security Orientation Course to include a mobile version and a condensed executive level course. One of the keys to course development has been the Ted Stevens Center’s Plans, Objective and Milestones (POAM) guidance.
“Currently courses are designed based on the list developed in the POAM,” Duprow explained. “Research is then conducted looking for any gaps in the topic. This also includes verifying what other regional centers have done to ensure no duplication of effort.”
In addition to the improvements Duprow made using the POAM, the team implemented new technology tools for the courses within the last year, making the courses more user friendly and interactive.
“This year we started using a learning management system, LMS, called GlobalNET,” explained Keesecker. “GlobalNET is a space where participants can find all of the pertinent information about a course in one place. On top of that, we use Slido within the course itself to conduct polls, ask questions from the audience, facilitate more interaction, which is an awesome thing that we now do.”
Copes, Keesecker, Roe, and Duprow may not be in the spotlight, but their collective efforts have played a crucial role in the success of the School for Arctic and Climate Security Studies courses. Their behind-the-scenes work ensures that participants receive top-notch education without a hitch, even as the virtual learning landscape continues to evolve.
Together, their efforts have made it possible for the school to establish new hybrid/in-person courses at the Ted Stevens Center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2024. This effort supports the center’s goal of reaching fully operational capacity late in the coming year.
As security practitioners and military personnel continue to enroll in these virtual courses, it’s essential to recognize and appreciate the unsung heroes who work tirelessly behind the screens, shaping the future of Arctic security education in the digital age.
Graphic By Amber Kurka | In the fast-evolving landscape of virtual education for security practitioners, a dedicated team of Department of Defense civilians and contractors work tirelessly behind the screens to ensure the seamless execution of the Ted Stevens Center’s School for Arctic and Climate Security Studies online courses. Since their initial launch in 2022 the Arctic Regional Security Orientation Course and the Arctic Multidomain Legal Course have undergone significant transformations to provide a quality learning environment to participants. This is thanks to a team of individuals who operate in the shadows, ensuring every detail is taken care of from start to finish. (DoD photo illustration by Amber E. Kurka) View Image Page