The United States Coast Guard is known for its impeccable standards and service. To maintain these levels of performance, USCG habitually goes above and beyond the call of duty to seek out new tools and resources that support the ongoing education of its members. In preparation for upgrading its computer system to the Windows Vista® operating system and the 2007 Microsoft® Office system, USCG began examining ways to gain maximum value from these new technologies. Curriculum Developers at the USCG Training Center in Petaluma, California, undertook an initial test of the Microsoft Office OneNote® 2007 digital note-taking program to evaluate how this tool could be used to complement USCG’s comprehensive, performance-based training process. USCG was impressed by the dynamic presentation of course materials, the ease of use, and the potential time and cost savings.
Originally established in 1790 as the Revenue Cutter Service, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is one of the oldest organizations in the federal government. Throughout its distinguished history, USCG has been instrumental in enforcing maritime law and protecting the nation’s coastlines and ports. During an average day, USCG saves 14 lives, assists 123 people in distress, conducts 78 search-and-rescue missions, and responds to 12 oil or hazardous chemical spills.
||It isn’t very often that a piece of software comes along that actually unifies what you’re doing. OneNote 2007 takes the Microsoft Office suite one step closer to being a one-stop shop for training.
Training Specialist III, L-3 Communications, Inc., in support of Training Center
This level of responsiveness and execution requires the highest caliber of skill and training. USCG is a forward-looking organization with a commitment to providing its members with the best technology-assisted, performance-based education available. USCG operates two full-time training centers in Yorktown, Virginia, and Petaluma, California, which provide training for entry-level and advanced rate-specific skills (a “rate” is defined as an enlisted pay-grade).
The Training Center (TRACEN) at Petaluma operates seven entry-level, or “A”, Schools, which focus on developing Petty Officer skills within specific ratings (general occupations within the USCG) that include Information Systems Technician (IT), Electronics Technician (ET), Operation Specialist (OS), Health Services Technician (HS), Yeoman (YN), Storekeeper (SK), and Food Services Specialist (FS). TRACEN Petaluma currently offers over 50 courses to approximately 4,000 USCG members each year.
Students are provided a variety of instructional material, including binders of documentation and handouts to supplement training. “Our current training support documents are largely paper-based,” explains Lieutenant John Bannon, TRACEN Petaluma, USCG. “Students take notes in spiral notebooks, reference their extensive student guide, and compile additional printed information for every course. We’re very interested in finding ways to save money on paper and printing costs, as well as provide enhanced learning transfer. As a federal organization, we’re certainly always thinking about being good stewards with the taxpayers’ money.”
When students leave the training centers, they take these printed resources with them into the field to use as references, but USCG members find the manuals and handbooks to be cumbersome. “It can be difficult to find a specific note or instruction in a printed resource, especially out in the field,” says Bannon. “Flipping through hundreds of pages of notes isn’t always feasible.” Currently the USCG is exploring various electronic support tools.
Instructors also spend a substantial amount of time preparing materials for classes and keeping documentation up to date. “I teach computer system administration for the Coast Guard,” says Jane Lybecker, Training Specialist III and Senior Instructor, L-3 Communications, Inc., in support of TRACEN Petaluma. “This topic requires almost weekly updates because everything changes so frequently. It’s very difficult to keep all of the documentation up to date and to know where the most current versions are located. I have to pull information from 14 different folders out on the network and 3 different Web sites. It’s a very time-consuming process.”
TRACEN officers began exploring the potential of using technology-based tools to further enhance the efficiency of the USCG training environment for its students as well as its instructors.
In 2007, USCG initiated a plan to upgrade its 100,000 computers to the Windows Vista® operating system and the 2007 Microsoft® Office system. Before deploying the new software, USCG began looking for ways to maximize the benefits of these new Microsoft technologies across the organization. When it discovered the Microsoft Office OneNote® 2007 digital note-taking program, USCG realized that this tool could have a significant impact on its training environment, and posed the question: How can Coast Guard Training Centers apply Office OneNote 2007 in the training environment?
||We’re very interested in finding ways to save money on paper and printing costs. As a federal organization, we’re certainly always thinking about being good stewards with the taxpayers’ money.
Lieutenant, TRACEN Petaluma, United States Coast Guard
To answer this query, Bannon and Mark Sutton of Exemplary Performance, LLC—a company committed to optimizing human performance in the workplace—organized an initial test, or proof of concept, of Office OneNote 2007 at TRACEN Petaluma. “The proof of concept was limited to 13 Fiber Optics students,” explains Bannon. “The testing period would be brief—only two weeks—so we identified the IT ‘A’ School as being the most compatible for this test because its students were already familiar with Information Systems technology.”
Lybecker worked with Sutton to create a prototype of the Fiber Optics course notebook in Office OneNote 2007. Lybecker and Sutton transferred documents, charts, diagrams, video clips, and photographs into the Office OneNote 2007 notebook. “It was so easy to transfer information into OneNote 2007,” says Lybecker. “It was also incredibly simple to link the videos and upload the appendix information—literally just a click of the mouse.” USCG installed the Office OneNote 2007 software on 14 Micron X1000 Transport laptop computers, and then copied the customized Office OneNote 2007 notebook onto each machine.
Fiber Optics students used the customized Office OneNote 2007 notebook during the lecture-based portion of the course, to review notes at the end of the day, and to complete homework assignments. Even though only one student had any previous experience with Office OneNote 2007, “they all picked it up pretty easily,” Lybecker says. “After the first couple of hours they were comfortable with the program and following right along. Using OneNote 2007 really made the lectures come to life—students could click on links and instantly view video clips or navigate directly to an appendix reference.”
Even though the initial proof of concept was limited in its scope, the positive results of the test have encouraged USCG to continue exploring future applications for Office OneNote 2007. Training specialists at TRACEN Petaluma are excited about the multidimensional, interactive, flexible capabilities of Office OneNote 2007 and the possibility of using the unified, all-in-one features to save time and financial resources, as well as to fundamentally change the way USCG provides training and ongoing support to its members.
||An important benefit of OneNote 2007 is that instructors can use it as an advanced organizer to bring all of the class material together into a dynamic ‘course in a box’ for our students.
Lieutenant, TRACEN Petaluma, United States Coast Guard
Dynamic “Course in a Box”
With Office OneNote 2007, instructors can prepare an entire course—complete with documentation, video clips, and links to Web-based resources—and present it to students in one simple package. “The customization of OneNote 2007 fits really well with our training process and with the documentation that we need to include in our courses,” says Lybecker. “We can more easily access different media as far as color photographs, videos, and all of the documentation of standards that we normally have to include in separate appendices. With OneNote 2007, we put all of that information into one package, put a bow on the top of it, and hand it to them on a laptop.”
Bannon adds, “An important benefit of OneNote 2007 is that instructors can use it as an advanced organizer to bring all of the class material together into a dynamic ‘course in a box’ for our students.”
Extensible, Portable Electronic Support
USCG is committed to providing exceptional training and up-to-date resources to its members throughout their careers with the organization. “We’re looking at OneNote 2007 as a portable tool that our students could take with them as they progress through the Coast Guard,” Bannon says. “As journeyman IT technicians, for example, our students could have an electronic copy of all their class notes on a USB flash drive, which would eliminate a lot of folders, technical publications, and manuals. They could easily search for a specific note that they took in class that said, ‘Repair this part first, then the other.’ OneNote 2007 could become an electronic performance support system for our members in the field.”
Bannon adds that as new policies and new information become available, USCG could also use Office OneNote 2007 to disperse these updates to graduates. “They could simply download the latest information into their OneNote notebooks,” he says. “This way the support we provide could extend beyond the classroom and positively impact the entire fleet.”
Multidimensional, Interactive Training
|USCG OneNote Training |
Lybecker notes, “The current student guide is not interactive. It’s a two-dimensional resource. But with OneNote 2007, our students can add their own dimension. They can put their own organizational spin on it. Everyone has their own way of learning, and students can use OneNote 2007 to take the course content and arrange it in whatever way works best for them. I think that’s a huge benefit.”
“One-Stop Shop for Training”
USCG training specialists use a wide variety of tools and resources to provide the most comprehensive instruction to their students. Lybecker primarily uses the Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003 presentation graphics program, the Office Word 2003 authoring program, Office Excel® 2003 spreadsheet software, and Office Access™ 2003 database software.
“I work with several of the Microsoft Office products,” says Lybecker, “and up until now there really hasn’t been a good way to organize all of the different pieces of data into one location. But OneNote 2007 does just that. It isn’t very often that a piece of software comes along that actually unifies what you’re doing. OneNote 2007 takes the Microsoft Office suite one step closer to being a one-stop shop for training.”
Time and Money Savings
Lybecker notes that using Office OneNote 2007 could save instructors significant time preparing course material. “I think having a tool like OneNote 2007 could save new instructors one full month in training and preparation time because they would be able to access everything they need for the course in one place. The ability to incorporate everything into one repository would shorten training time tremendously.
“For a class like System Administration,” Lybecker continues, “standards change so frequently that an instructor could save weeks of time in preparation and hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars in printing costs. Right now we print 14 copies of a 500-page student handbook for every class. Then we have two binders of appendices and standards documentation. Reducing the amount of documents that we need to print would be a huge savings for us.”
Lybecker concludes, “The potential of Office OneNote 2007 was really what hooked me. I could see so many different applications for people in the training world, both instructors and students. The ability to organize mountains of information into one easy-to-search resource is a huge benefit. I was sold on it from that aspect alone.”
Microsoft Office System
The Microsoft Office system is the business world’s chosen environment for information work, providing the programs, servers, and services that help you succeed by transforming information into impact.
For more information about the Microsoft Office system, go to:
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
For more information about Exemplary Performance, LLC products and services, call (410) 266-8400 or visit the Web site at:
For more information about United States Coast Guard products and services, call (202) 372-4620 or visit the Web site at: