The Bayonet

Tuesday, May. 27, 2014

New smartphone apps increase Soldier learning

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Unlike previous generations who lugged around bulky field manuals and training manuals, today's Soldier would rather find what he needs on his smartphone.

Instead of thumbing through a paper manual, the Soldier slides his thumb across the screen of his phone and opens the latest learning app from the Maneuver Center of Excellence Life Long Learning Programs Branch.

"A lot of people have been calling the younger generation, the YouTube generation," said Roy Elam, chief of the MCoE Life Long Learning Programs Branch. "They want to go and learn something at the point of need."

That's where the MCoE Life Long Learning Programs Branch and its development team comes in to create smartphone applications that prepare Soldiers for challenges they might face in Route Recon or Pathfinder or Jumpmaster training, Elam said.

"We're finding that students are telling us the apps have helped a lot," he said, adding that most of the feedback about the apps comes from students via Google Play. "Students have said, 'This is the real deal.' They would rather learn this way."

Every January Elam and his team send requests to all commands asking what their needs are for the upcoming year. Those requests are prioritized by professional military education first, initial entry training second and point of instruction third. An example of PME is a class by the NCOA; an example of IET is 11B or Infantry basic training, and an example of POI is the Jumpmaster or Pathfinder school, Elam said.

The length of time required for the development of the app depends on how interactive it is, said James Ocheske, training specialist in the Life Long Learning Programs Branch.

As of May 21, there were 22 apps, 16 interactive multimedia instruction courses and 15 training videos available on Warrior University, Ocheske said. In April, downloads on the Warrior University website reached the 10,000-download plateau and downloads on Google Play reached the 30,000-download plateau.

"As long as someone has an AKO account and password, they can go to Warrior University from their computer or phone and download the app," he said. "However, a lot of people don't know what Warrior University is, which is why we're trying to get the word out."

Once a person is logged into AKO, they need to go to https://www.warrioruniversity.army.mil/training-wiki/-/wiki/main/mcoe+dotd+training+materials and then click on Apps, IMI or Training videos, he said, adding that a person should visit all three links to ensure they get maximum use of the training available.

Although all the apps aren't currently available on all smartphone operating platforms, Ocheske said that beginning in fiscal 2015 they will be available on IOS, Android, Windows and Adobe Air.

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