24/7 mission engagement requires a collaboration platform with persistence

24/7 mission engagement requires a collaboration platform with persistence

From recruitment to retirement, the government is charged with keeping its workforce prepared for daily operations and continually developing their skills. Now, with greater focus on user experience across government, agencies are searching for ways to virtually train and run distributed efforts with more engagement and operational efficiency.

Geographically dispersed teams need to connect and share in real time, securely, from various devices — and in 24/7 missions, they need to do this perpetually. At the same time, agencies say that engaging the learner is markedly more difficult when delivering training online. For this reason, experience-driven learning has become a top priority for improving trainee engagement and retention.

Both goals require a persistent collaboration space that connects users across all locations.

According to the National Training Laboratories Institute, passive learning methods result in average retention rates of 30% while participatory learning increases retention to an average of 90%.

In all scenarios, each space needs to be tailored to the unique mission needs of the group. And it must be delivered in a simple, seamless, secure digital environment that puts the user first.

Adobe Connect uniquely supports agencies in all these areas. It enables information sharing and interoperability across all levels of government in ways that Zoom and other commodity products cannot.

Adobe Connect receives IL4 ATO

Adobe Connect was recently entrusted by the Department of Defense (DoD) to handle the government’s most sensitive controlled unclassified information (CUI). In 2022, Adobe’s managed service partner CoSo Cloud achieved Impact Level 4 (IL4) authority to operate from Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). This means more defense agencies can now use Adobe Connect for training and mission operations that involve CUI.

With the IL4 certification, CoSo is now facilitating a cloud-based training and worldwide seminar environment that will enable the Marine Corps Education College of Distance Education and Training (CDET) to effectively increase operational readiness. “Part of our curriculum utilizes CUI information,” said Larry E. Smith II, ED.S., technical director at USMC CDET. “Providing our instructors and students the ability to leverage the tools available from CoSo in the Adobe Connect virtual classrooms within an IL4 environment is a big win for not only us but across government agencies.”

Why commodity video conferencing isn’t always enough

Due to the pandemic, commodity products like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and other video-first platforms saw strong adoption in government over a fairly short time. And in many ways, they’ve been a lifeline for agencies that needed to urgently pivot to remote work. They remain effective solutions for basic meetings and screen sharing. But when it comes to more complex experiences, they fall short in several areas.

Lack of persistence

A typical platform offers discrete sessions with a start and an end — after which users log out. Reconvening requires scheduling a new session, with a new URL, that users must log in to each time. Content doesn’t remain active from session to session, which requires resharing and limits access to information between sessions. Imagine an instructor who has to rebuild their classroom from the ground up each day, arranging the chairs and desks, hanging posters, and painting the walls. This ephemeral workspace doesn’t support the kind of continuous, real-time exchange that 24/7 missions require.

Lack of customization

Virtual meeting rooms have a static structure, which limits how educators can design and deliver training or ability to apply to the different mission scenarios from disaster response at home or a ground combat campaign in theater. Instructors have little control over the classroom layout, with no way to configure the space or upload materials in advance. Platforms also may not have interactive tools designed for learning, like games, quizzes, or polling. Current platforms aren’t equipped to plug in maps, video, response dashboards, or incident reports for a 360-degree view. This can make the experience feel more like a teleconference than a truly collaborative learning and operational platform.

Security features

Standard video platforms don’t offer granular access control. Organizers don’t have the option to assign role-based permissions to different types of users — ability to present or view versus interact with different content types — and security settings must be reset for each session. Additionally, not all platforms are authorized to handle sensitive data or operate on-premises within a customer network, which rules them out for certain DoD and national security missions.

Accessibility Issues

Not every platform is accessible across all agencies, on all devices, at all bandwidths. And not every platform is 508 compliant and interoperates seamlessly with assistive technologies such as screen readers, screen contrast and color tools, closed captioning, and keyboard navigation and shortcuts. Federal, state, and local agencies struggle to find a single comprehensive platform that meets everyone’s needs.

“With the Adobe solution, DoD enterprises can overcome traditional barriers to collaboration arising from personnel working in different computing environments and interacting via a wide range of T-1, satellite, and limited-bandwidth channels.”

— LTC Karl Kurz (USA, Ret.), Enterprise Services Chief Engineer, DISA

Adobe Connect delivers mission success across three domain environments


Adobe Connect addresses these gaps. Beyond video conferencing and screen sharing, Adobe Connect delivers a persistent and customizable virtual environment where teams can securely exchange information in real time. With Adobe Connect, organizers can turn one-dimensional meetings into interactive experiences that keep users engaged and dynamically connected to the information they need.

Experience-driven virtual learning

Adobe Connect has powerful digital applications known as pods that help enhance the experience for each learner. These pods allow instructors to customize the digital learning view to create an immersive and engaging classroom environment, which fosters knowledge retention.

Recent success — Service branch extends elite training to the digital classroom

An elite branch of the armed forces used Adobe Connect to build a centralized eLearning platform to better support service members throughout their careers. With Adobe Connect, educators created and hosted more than 600 virtual trainings. This involved standardizing content for consistency and enriching it with dynamic media to elevate the user experience. The FedRAMP-authorized solution made eLearning accessible on any device while adhering to the DoD’s security posture — delivering an immersive, experience-driven learning environment to more than 300,000 members.

Common operational picture (COP)

Adobe Connect provides a single, persistent location where distributed personnel can coordinate efforts and access the same intelligence in real time. It ensures that people have ongoing situational awareness from anywhere, on any device — making it critical to mission planning, emergency preparedness, and incident response.

Recent success — DHS confronts human trafficking at the Super Bowl

During the 2022 Super Bowl in Los Angeles, DHS’s customized Homeland Security Information Network platform (HSIN Connect) was used to support Operation Red Zone, a multi-jurisdictional human trafficking enforcement operation. Personnel from multiple agencies collaboratively used HSIN Connect to help identify victims, compile real-time data on arrests, and provide information to local law enforcement agencies. This resulted in a rapid response that led to the arrests of 56 suspects and the recovery of two victims under the age of 16.

Virtual events and meetings

Adobe Connect helps event organizers engage audiences at scale. It includes multiple tools for teams to brand, promote, execute and track their virtual events. Backstage and moderation tools support a smooth run-of-show, interactive features keep audiences’ attention, and automated outreach and reporting help track engagement.

Recent success — FDA gains greater control, capacity, and global reach

At the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), backstage meeting in Adobe Connect hosts more control, allowing each scientist to have their own content area with expert slides and charts. It also provides flexibility to create unique camera layouts and manage individual users’ attendance, microphones, web cameras, and permissions for enhanced experiences. Hosts could also create chat pods allowing all parties to communicate outside the broadcast​. Adobe Connect also helped the FDA overcome capacity constraints to broadcast globally on YouTube Live. The result was over 4,000 successful meetings, better user experience, enhanced brand image, and wider global reach.

Recent success — Managing the nation’s top fisheries at a time of uncertainty

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) is one of the several national councils under the US Department of Commerce dedicated to developing and managing US fisheries. During the pandemic, the council was forced to go virtual to maintain face-to-face connection across extremely remote locations like satellite connections on fishing vessels. They also needed to encourage interactivity and debate while maintaining control over policy discussions. Not any video conferencing solution would do. The environment had to be easy to use and manage — being 508 compliant — inclusive and easily accessible for people with disabilities, and maintain persistence between meetings for 30 to 300 or more stakeholders and the public. NPFMC has been using Adobe Connect since 2012 but was able to customize it for more usability and performance to deliver on its mission throughout the pandemic.

“Adobe Connect is so much more robust than other online meeting platforms,” says Maria Davis, communications and IT specialist at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Identifying the optimal solution — top six traits for success

Today, agencies should be seeking a way to collaborate that isn’t limited to a single session or format. They need an environment that can support around-the-clock operations, all types of users, and any type of curriculum or content. And in defense and national security missions, they must be able to easily authenticate users.

When searching for a new solution, agencies should look for a platform with these six key traits.

Persistence

This lets teams create meeting rooms that never go away. All information is captured in a single place and can stay active for days, weeks, or even months at a time. Participants can drop in at any time for updates, with access to documents, videos, images, and other files. This is especially critical in 24/7 training and response scenarios that span multiple shifts of workers.

A platform should offer persistence across four realms:

Customization

The ideal solution gives organizers complete control over their virtual sessions. Custom layouts, including shared templates, allow instructors to fine-tune the learning environment for their precise audience and training objective. Trainers may choose to deploy customizable interactive features like polling or quizzing, drawing and annotations, on-demand video replay, educational games, breakout rooms, and more.

A powerful backstage

This offers a behind-the-scenes administration space where meeting hosts can privately collaborate before and during events. A side screen feature lets organizers chat, preload content to review before going live, and discretely set up various layouts, content, and flow without interrupting the live session.

Rigorous and granular security

The optimal platform is FedRAMP approved and IL4 certified to handle CUI used by defense agencies. It offers support for easily authenticating users internally and externally across organizations, including using multifactor authentication, public key infrastructure, and federation with services like login.gov. It also offers role-based access to specific rooms and resources and retains those settings for as long as the space is active.

Accessible design

The ideal interface is built for accessibility, allowing it to interoperate seamlessly with third-party assistive software. It can be accessed via any device with any type of connectivity — even in low-bandwidth environments. The result is a lower barrier to entry for all participants, regardless of location, IT environment, or physical ability.

A consistent brand

A platform should be versatile functionally but also aesthetically. Organizers can visually customize their meeting space to serve as an extension of their organization’s brand. Whether it’s for a webinar or emergency response, visual branding conveys credibility and professionalism that inspires engagement, confidence, and trust among participants.

With a platform like Adobe Connect, agencies can take advantage of all these benefits in one turnkey solution.

The bar’s been raised

Government is placing higher priority on user experience and engagement, as evidenced by the 21st Century IDEA and other mandates. Agencies will need to evolve their conferencing capabilities to keep pace with these directives — and with user expectations.

The commodity products that meet basic needs now may continue to serve those purposes. But users need a collaborative platform to accomplish 24/7 missions with more persistence, speed, and versatility. That’s where Adobe Connect can help the government achieve true mission transformation.

Learn how secure real-time collaboration with Adobe Connect can support your mission.

Chat with an Adobe Connect sales and solution specialist today.

Erik Miller is senior manager for Adobe Public Sector Digital Learning Solutions. In his role, Erik is responsible for helping government agencies embrace cloud technologies to transform their virtual training and real-time collaboration needs. Erik has over 20 years of experience in the technology/software industry.

Mike Murtha, Adobe solutions consultant for collaboration and eLearning solutions in the public sector, also contributed to this article.