From ADL Team Member… Jason Haag: Mobile Learning for Training and Performance Support

Jason Haag

Image of Jason Haag

As a contractor with The Tolliver Group, Jason provides support to the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of ADL.

Mobile learning should NOT be merely viewed as a replacement, an alternative, or as a new addition to existing training delivery methods. It should be thought of as a complementary way to augment or enhance all types of learning. Many organizations are now incorporating mobile devices into their learning environment, but they should be thinking how mobile learning can not only support their overall strategy for training but also used for improving performance. Some of the best examples of mobile learning that I have seen are actually a type of mobile learning, called mobile performance support.

A leading expert on performance support, Dr. Conrad Gottfredson, created one of the most highly referenced and thoughtful lists for thinking about learning in terms of training and performance support: The Five Moments of Learning Need. These five moments really helped me to think about the following:

  • When there is a learning need, is it a training need or a performance need?
  • Can mobile solutions be intentionally designed to support both training and performance support objectives?

The Five Moments of Need: 1.When needing to learn for the first time, 2. When neededing to expand upon what was learned, 3. When needing to remember or act upon what was learned, 4. When needing to solve problems or fix things that break, 5. When needing to change skills or performance practices

Allison Rossett, another expert in the field of performance support, points out, “It’s ok to embrace both.” And that’s the focus of this article. When thinking about training and performance support, it should not be an “either / or” proposition. The most effective mobile learning solutions should provide ways to support both!

Connecting Learning Domains

Have you ever heard of the Augmented Reality for Maintenance and Repair (ARMAR) project? It explores the use of augmented reality to aid in the execution of procedural tasks relating to maintenance and repair. In terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy this primarily falls in the cognitive domain, but could also reveal physical performance improvement in the psychomotor domain. For good reasons, the instructional design practices for eLearning have been largely limited to the cognitive domain. Everyone who’s been involved in the eLearning space in the past ten years knows that SCORM is useful for recording cognitive or knowledge-based learning outcomes. Are there now opportunities to look more deeply at the connections between the cognitive and the psychomotor domain? I think so. And I also think it also opens up our perceptions about how we think about performance support. Does performance support only need to address shortcomings of our memory? What about if we forget how to physically perform a task? When you hear the term “performance support”, it often referred to in this context as it was historically shortened (for good reason) from the acronym, Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS).

Designers now have opportunities to create learning experiences that can provide both significant instructional value and performance support value. This focus on improving performance and augmenting skills—rather than on just knowledge transfer—can also result in new opportunities to generate learning objectives that can be satisfied in both the cognitive and psychomotor domains. While some human intervention by an instructor, mentor, or facilitator may be required for accurate psychomotor measurement, the opportunity is there nonetheless.

How Could Learning in the Psychomotor Domain Be Captured?

How could the data related to one’s physical performance be captured using a mobile device? Could you use the camera on your mobile device to record one’s physical performance and then send that video to an instructor or subject matter expert for evaluation?

Is it possible to evaluate physical performance without human intervention? With the advent of the Experience API (xAPI), learning experiences in the psychomotor domain can now be recorded and shared, especially through integration with sensors. Not convinced? Just take a look at the work being done by Hybrid Learning Systems to demonstrate the use of Arduinno to report x API statements. The aforementioned ARMAR project relied on virtual reality glasses (wearable gear) for augmented performance support. There is potential here for virtual reality glasses (and other objects with sensors) to intentionally track learning experiences and performance by using the xAPI.

Mobile Apps for Creating Both Training & Performance Support

There are also opportunities to create various types of training and performance support content by leveraging existing mobile apps. Some of these even combine augmented reality and location-based (GPS) capabilities. While looking for several examples that potentially cross multiple domains, I put together a quick list. Note: not all of these examples use augmented reality or the location-based capabilities of the mobile device, but they are helpful in thinking about the different types of micro-strategies you could embrace when designing your training and performance support solution(s).

  1. Aurasma – http://www.aurasma.com
    • Launched in 2011, Aurasma is an augmented reality platform. It allows you to create “auras” or augmented reality experiences that can be combined with geographical locations resulting in many opportunities for mobile performance support.
    • Example: Pre-recorded videos of maintenance procedures for a Chevy engine. When presented in this manner with an augmented reality app and geo-location, it could be used as both training and performance support. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKHX6sjeDTw
  2. Snapguide – http://snapguide.com
    • Provides a simple way to create, share and consume instructional knowledge. It is a free app for iOS only. The service provides easy-to-understand instructions and “how to” guides for a wide array of topics.
    • Example: A step-by-step guide and videos to show users how to delete batch photos from an iPad using a Mac.
      http://snapguide.com/guides/delete-batch-photos-from-an-ipad-using-a-mac/
  3. Wikitude – http://www.wikitude.com
    • Another type of augmented reality platform that allows users to add digital content on top of anything being seen through the mobile device camera. In addition to geographically located information, you could also provide image tracking and recognition capabilities for various training or performance support scenarios such as language learning.
    • Example: http://www.wikitude.com/showcase/pearson-ar-language-course
  4. Evernote – http://evernote.com
    • Evernote makes it easy to remember things, but you can also use it to capture notes, images, videos, and other information that could be used primarily for performance support. However, there are a number of add-on apps for Evernote that expand its capabilities even further.
    • Example: http://evernote.com/peek/

What are some other examples of existing apps that allow you to generate your own performance support or training content? Please feel free to comment on this blog and share apps that you’ve seen!

(ADL does not endorse or make any specific recommendation about vendors or solutions. These examples are provided only to encourage you to consider several options during the process of identifying the right mobile learning solution for your situation.)