CWU News

Kognito communication proving valuable for CWU interaction with student vets, military

Kognito training imageELLENSBURG, Wash. — Fall quarter enrollment figures show a nearly 7 percent increase in the number of students who have self-identified as military veterans now studying at Central Washington University.

One of the reasons is likely CWU’s designation as a “Veteran Supportive Campus” by the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA). The endorsement is based on the university’s demonstrated commitment to serving the needs of military personnel and their families.

That commitment includes the way in which university faculty, staff, and administrators communicate with those students. It is communication which becomes even more productive, following training through Kognito. Offered through the university’s Central Learning Academy (CLA), Kognito is online learning that combines conversation and game technology.

“Users get to role-play and fine tune the way they talk with “virtual” student-vets,” said Ruben Cardenas, CWU Veterans Center director. “Those taking the training can try out different approaches, get feedback on those whether they worked—or how they could work better—and develop confidence to hold real-life conversations, where everybody ends up feeling comfortable.”

It is well documented that veterans are uncomfortable bringing up their military connection because of concerns they may be singled out in class for comment on military issues or topics. Because of such unease, student-veterans may want to simply be considered “students.”

“With the growth of the student-veteran population here, this [training] is needed to address awareness in terms of those kinds of issues, “Cardenas added. “Kognito helps anyone working with student-vets and providing additional ways to engage with and help them.”

The 30-minute, voluntary training is referred to as an evidence-based health simulation. It has been reviewed and certified by the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“It’s customizable to our campus and the resources we have on campus and those that the community can make available as well,” Cardenas noted. “Helping student-veterans make needed connections is also part of the training.”

CWU students pushed for inclusion of the program, which was developed in collaboration with Student Veterans of America, into training opportunities here. It will be available for, at least, the the next 18 months.

So far, nearly 100 members of the university community have successfully completed the program.

Company data indicates more than a million people nationwide have already engaged in a Kognito simulation. CWU is one of just two public higher education institutions in the state providing the training.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1487