MCoE team builds training apps to reach Soldiers at 'point of need'
With the Route Recon app, users can construct their own overlay.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (July 18, 2012) -- Army training at Fort Benning has never been just in the classroom -- now it's virtually everywhere -- available in virtual form on Soldiers' smartphones, tablets and other devices.

The most recent digital applications to come off the line from the Maneuver Center of Excellence's Instructional Development Technology Team are Route Recon, Pathfinder and Jumpmaster, designed to help students in the respective courses.

"The units come to us with the ideas for the apps," said Roy Elam, the team's chief. "Basically, the apps are to help with trouble spots in the instruction. So for example, the Jumpmaster app -- I think one of the trouble spots is the actual inspection they do. So that is one of the major parts of the app. There's an actual video that shows them how to inspect parachutists. There's also a quiz in the Jumpmaster app that gets them ready for a post-test."

The apps are free for anyone with a CAC or AKO login via Warrior University, the MCoE's knowledge management section. Full and "lite" versions are available. The latter are also loaded to Google Play, where the videos are streamed instead of downloaded to save memory.

"They're designed to help supplement the students' needs," said Christopher Benton, modeling and simulations analyst with the Directorate of Training and Doctrine. "They have study materials, short videos, applicable field manuals, quizzes, interactive tutorials and more. We have developed them for iTunes, Android and Windows. Initiatives are under way to have our apps accessible from different marketplaces as well."

While the apps are geared toward students already enrolled in the course, they can be helpful for those headed to a course, Elam said, or those who've long since graduated.

"For example (if) they've been out of school for several months," he said. "They get ready to do inspection. They pull out the app, go over it again, and they just re-familiarized themselves in a matter of a few minutes. They don't have to go to their computer, go to the Internet, find the information. They don't have to go to a book. They can look at it anytime. It's there."

The key is accessibility. The apps will work on just about any smartphone, tablet or computer. Benton said they've been looking at making the apps compatible with e-readers such as the Nook and Kindle.

"They're able to relate more to the instruction because it's part of that device they've grown accustomed to using daily," Elam said. "Once it's on their phone or on their computer, they take it away with them. That's the strategy: bring your device, get the content, use it the way you want to. We're giving the training to them at the point of need."

These three recent training apps became available online at the end of June. Since then, some new apps have been added to Warrior University, including one for basic rifle marksmanship and another for the buddy team live fire. Both were previously downloadable from iTunes but only became available on Warrior University this month.

Elam said the technology team had several other apps in development. Some deal with Armor School skill sets such as bore-sighting the M1 Abrams tank, M2A3 turret components and function and tank screening. Others include an informational app for Officer Candidate School, a Ranger handbook and an app requested by the chaplains' office called Soul Strong. The team is also currently reworking the Resilience app, which debuted last year, into a new version slated for release this fall.

Feedback on the different apps is starting to trickle in. So far, it's been positive. Elam said the students have found the virtual training helpful and easy to use.

"It's pretty interactive -- and fun; it's a user learning experience," Benton said. "We've talked with a lot of the instructors and they like it. We expect it to improve the students' learning."

To get an app, visit https://www.warrioruniversity.army.mil/landing.

Page last updated Thu July 19th, 2012 at 10:41