About ADL Initiative

ADL Initiative

The ADL Initiative is a government program reporting to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training (DASD (FE&T)), under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness.


The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative bridges across Defense and other Federal agencies to encourage collaboration, facilitate interoperability, and promote best practices for using distributed learning to provide the highest-quality education, training, informal learning, and just-in-time support, tailored to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime and anywhere, in order to increase readiness, save resources, and facilitate interorganizational collaboration.


The ADL Initiative pursues three broad lines of effort (LOEs):

  • LOE 1: Research and Development (R&D) for Distributed Learning Modernization.

    The ADL Initiative strives to develop the next-generation of distributed learning science techniques and technologies via research, development, and collaboration. In accordance with its original mandate, the ADL Initiative’s R&D work seeks to develop and assess advanced distributed learning prototypes that enable more effective, efficient, and affordable learner-centric lifelong learning. These R&D activities span technical areas such as e-learning, mobile learning, learning analytics and associated learner modeling, interoperability specifications for distributed learning systems, and associated learning theory.
  • LOE 2: Distributed Learning Policy and Technical Guidelines.

    The ADL Initiative’s R&D efforts informs its policy work. That is , the program’s emerging concept exploration, requirements engineering, and visioning work helps it develop effective policy, software specifications, and other technical guidance for military, government, and other industry stakeholders. Notable ADL Initiative notable contributions to distributed learning policy and specifications include the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM®), Experience API (xAPI), and the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1322.26 , “Distributed Learning,” which establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, prescribes procedures, and establishes information requirements for developing, managing, providing, and evaluating distributed learning for DoD military and civilian personnel.
  • LOE 3: Implementation Support and Cross-Coordination.

    The ADL Initiative aspires to serve as a thought leader for forward-looking distributed learning topics within the DoD, other national and coalition governmental agencies, and the greater professional community. For the ADL Initiative, thought leadership involves the curation (i.e., collection, validation, synthesis, maintenance, and dissemination) of relevant requirements, emerging targets of opportunity, corresponding strategic roadmaps, and associated policy guidance. The program works closely with stakeholders to help them implement effective, coordinated advanced distributed learning solutions. This includes coordination via ADL Initiative professional communities of practice, the Defense ADL Advisory Committee (DADLAC), international governmental bodies (such as NATO), and the ADLI Global Partnership Network.


The ADL Initiative originated as a DoD-wide program, and Defense personnel have been – and remain – its core constituents. However, with the policy documents published in the late 1990s, The ADL Initiative received direction to also serve the entire Federal workforce as well as international partners, industry, and academia. In short, the ADL Initiative’s stakeholders include, the US Defense and security sector, US Federal government, coalition military partners, and other distributed learning professionals from industry, professional societies, and academic institutions.

Since its inception, The ADL Initiative has emphasized collaboration. The two primary program offices – in Alexandria, VA and Orlando, FL – were originally named “Collaboration Laboratories” (or Co-Labs, for short) to emphasize this cooperation, and they were explicitly designed as cooperative sandbox environments, where government, industry and academia could come together to test commercial product offerings against learning requirements (Parmentier, 2000).


  • JETT*CON2001 Gold Sponsor - U.S. Department of Labor and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, 2001
  • Outstanding Achievement in the Field of e-learning - ELLI Awards/Editors of e-learning Magazine, 2001
  • Governor’s Award - National Training and Simulation Association, 2001
  • E-gov Trailblazer - National Guard Bureau, 2002
  • Best eLearning Initiative - U.S. Army Knowledge Management Awards, 2002
  • Secretary's 21st Century Workplace Award - U.S. Department of Labor, 2002
  • Workplace Learning Conference Regional Level Sponsor - Institute for Work & the Economy, 2003
  • Advocate Member - International Society for Performance Improvement, 2010
  • Top 100 Learning Organization - eLearning! Media Group, 2012
  • Top 100 Learning Organization - eLearning! Media Group, 2013
  • Award for Best Tutorial - National Training and Simulation Association, 2015
  • Top 100 Learning Organization - eLearning! Media Group, 2015
  • Innovation Award - Federal Government Distance Learning Association, 2016
  • Top 100 Learning Organization - eLearning! Media Group, 2016
  • Nominee for Best Tutorial - National Training and Simulation Association, 2015
  • Top 100 Learning Organization - eLearning! Media Group, 2017


We are always seeking talented individuals for our team. If you are interested in working at the ADL Initiative, please send a cover letter and resume to outreach@adlnet.gov.

Student Opportunities

We are always seeking talented individuals for our team. If you are interested in internships at the ADL Initiative, please send a cover letter and resume to outreach@adlnet.gov.

For The Press

For all press inquiries, please email outreach@adlnet.gov with topics of interest and deadlines. In some circumstances, the OSD Public Affairs Office (PAO) will have to be consulted before information is released.