MCT Academics Chief’s Initiative Brings Digital Learning to Marines

May 13, 2020

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Derrick, academics chief, Marine Combat Training Battalion, School of Infantry-East, presented a new digital classroom for the students attending Marine Combat Training that caught the attention of Gen. David H. Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, sergeant major of the Marine Corps, during their visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune on April 22.

Because of Derrick’s initiative, Marines will now be encouraged to bring their own communication devices to the training classroom as this class will be accessed through the Marines’ personal phones and tablets. Upon arrival to MCT, Marines will establish a Marine Net account, enroll in the course, and find all of their online materials needed for the training period.

“The goal of the training materials being digital as opposed to power points in a classroom, is for Marines to be able to learn at their own pace ultimately resulting in better retention of information,” said Derrick.

Having access to these training materials will help with the continued evolution of how Marines are trained at School of Infantry – East and in turn enhance the quality of the Marines entering the Fleet Marine Force.

The online course allows the Marines to study the entire MCT period of instruction on Marine Net via the Moodle app on their personal devices and allows a more interactive learning experience through instructional photos and videos. Marines will be able to access this course from the time start MCT until the end of their Marine Corps career so they can come back and study any time they feel they need a refresher on the basics.

“SSgt Derrick’s ability to innovate and apply advancements in 21st Century learning is right on point with MCDP 7.” Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy E. Black

Derrick is a native of West Columbia, South Carolina and enlisted into the Marine Corps at 17 in 2009. He stood as a nuclear security guard at Kings Bay, Georgia for 2 years. He was then assigned to 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment where he went on a 9-month-long deployment to Afghanistan from 2013-2014. Upon returning from the deployment, Derrick went from active duty to active-reserves and was stationed with Force Headquarters Group in New Orleans before becoming a Combat Instructor and now, Academic Chief for MCT Bn on Camp Geiger.

Throughout his Marine Corps career, Derrick has taken advantage of the many opportunities to make meaningful connections with Marines which has propelled him forward in his self-development.

“Some of my inspiration comes from having a really great mentor as someone to look up to and learn from,” said Derrick. “Master Gunnery Sgt. Smith was the assistant Marine officer instructor of the ROTC program at Tulane University and he was the most dedicated, professional and humble leader I had ever met. Seeing someone care for people so much and do things he certainly did not have to do just to make sure that his midshipmen were properly trained and ready to go into the service lit a fire in me and made me want to do the same, even more than I already did.”

During his 11-year career, Derrick has received several awards including the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, two Navy Achievement Medals, multiple Marine and Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Month awards and the NCO of the Year award while with Headquarters, Marine Forces Reserve. He conducted over 400 funeral services and was selected to conduct a dignified transfer for World War II veteran, Pfc. James S. Smith who was killed in action in November of 1943 and discovered 73 years later. Impressive records and awards aside, Derrick states his biggest accomplishment is being a good husband and father to his wife, Tara and his two daughters, Quinn and Alice.

“Staff Sgt. Derrick epitomizes everything the Corps should desire of a staff non-commissioned officer, especially when it comes to learning and training Marines. His ability to think outside the box, research and analyze data, and develop new learning methods is exactly what we need from enlisted leaders,” said Sergeant Major Phillip McMellon, former Sergeant Major of Marine Combat Training. “SSgt Derrick has always been a leader that wants to make his unit and Marines better through continuous learning. Being innovative, creative and communicating his ideas up and down the chain of command are strengths that aid Derrick’s ability to affect change in the way we learn and remain mission ready.”