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GCN : March 2013
GCN MARCH 2013 • GCN.COM 27 barriers to mLearning in government, not least of which is the availability of the mobile devices them- selves. There is no way any part of government can afford to buy everyone a device to access mLearn- ing courses. Also, people have continually stressed in surveys that they prefer using the device of their choice rather than government-mandated devices for this kind of activity. STUDENT BYO SURVEY That was one reason why NPS ran a recent survey to see what kinds of devices its students preferred. One of the key takeaways from the survey results is that students would use mLearning if it were avail- able, and that they want to be able to access course reading materials, use mobile applications that sup- port their class work, and provide remote access to class lectures. It was also clear that students are interested enough in mLearning that they will invest their own money in order to take advantage of the technology, the study authors said. "Here at our campus we already have a BYOD policy, and so students are going to bring whatever technology they find most effective for themselves," Mastre said. "I was concerned we were going to lock [mLearning courses] into building for just one form factor, and [that survey] led us to designing content to play across both Apple and Android devices, and for different sizes of screens." Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is therefore seen as a key enabler for mLearning. Given the secu- rity concerns agencies, particularly DOD, have with BYOD, exactly how the various policies will work out and how they will affect mLearning is unclear. And given that most individuals only have limited data plans for their own devices, some way has to be found to either let them access mLearning courses over the Internet through WiFi networks, or agencies have to develop ways to pay them back for the band- width they use. Organizations are still trying to work out just how to use mLearning. But it's already clear that, when it works, it provides capabilities that no other technol- ogy-driven learning has. Ron Fricker, a professor in the Operations Re- search Department of NPS, said that when he taught courses his students could be on ships at sea, in Guam or Afghanistan. The flexibility that mLearn- ing provides --- the anytime, anywhere capability --- was the key to being able to teach a course to those people, he said. • GlobalMedAid This app provides tools and resources that medics, nurses and doctors involved in humanitarian and disaster relief operations can access through their smart phones or other mobile devices. The content includes a range of interactive job aids, such as preparation checklists, ebooks and expert videos, examples of emergency medical procedures and o cial training courses, such as how to combat human tra cking. It was originally developed under the Mobile Learning Environment (MoLE), a DOD Coalition Warfare Program (CWP) project. MoLE is a col- laboration of over 20 countries, sponsored by the federal government, that worked to build a platform-independent set of tools for learning and information sharing on mobile devices by leveraging global telecommuni- cations infrastructures. In a final report published in December 2012, the CWP said MoLE had "far exceeded the original goals and expectations." The mLearning infrastructure it developed is now being integrated into the DOD s Joint Knowledge Online portal. text4baby Launched in February 2010 and run by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), text4baby sends free text messages to women who are either pregnant or have very young babies to provide a range of health information and reminders about prenatal care and healthy behaviors that mothers should follow to ensure their babies health. It was developed by a broad public/private coalition. Government orga- nizations involved included the White House O ce of Science and Technol- ogy Policy, Health and Human Services Department, Defense Department Military Health System and the Agriculture Department. Over 56,000 people have signed up to the program since its launch, according to HHS, and have received an average of three texts a week. More than 300 state and local governments, health insurers, schools and colleges have signed on to promote the service. Aurasma Tagged as an "augmented reality platform," Aurasma was launched in July 2011 and uses pattern recognition technology to identify objects using a mobile device s camera, and then augments that with videos, animations and 3D objects to add context to what the camera is seeing. As a job performance aid, for example, someone could pass their camera phone over parts of an engine and for each part a video would be invoked and shown on the device that will describe what that part does. Other material could come up to show what the proper maintenance or repair procedures for the part are. No barcodes, visual tags or special 3D glasses are needed for Aurasma to work. Government organizations are starting to pay attention. The U.S. Postal Service has developed an Aurasma app that allows someone to scan a piece of mail and then merge that physical image with other digital images. The cash-strapped USPS wants to use it to produce new kinds of advertising that companies can use to attract potential customers. The app could be out by the end of 2013. 3 MLEARNING APPS THAT WORK