Thursday, January 21, 2010

Content Types - Level 3: Voice

Level 3: Voice-based Content and Assessments
NOTE: This is part 4 of 7 in a continuing series; please see earlier posts for more background information.

Level 3 extends the mobile learning experience by providing users with anytime/anywhere access to audio-based content without needing a smartphone device or standard MP3/iPod-style media player. This makes it possible to deliver just-in-time information, training materials, data collection tools and performance support mechanisms to mobile workers using the tool virtually everyone already has in their pocket or purse – a voice-enabled mobile phone.

Any mobile worker equipped with a cellphone (or even fixed-line telephone) can receive scheduled (“pushed”) audio content from the CellCast Server (their phone rings and they answer the call to hear their most current assignment), or they can initiate a call from their cellphone (“pulled”) to access audio learning assignments and training updates whenever they have time to learn (by placing a call to the CellCast Server directly or through an embedded link found in an email or SMS message). To help measure understanding and knowledge retention, voice-based CellCasts Sessions can include spoken word assessments (e.g., tests, quizzes, surveys), allowing managers and administrators to determine who is merely listening and who is actually learning.

The CellCast Solution platform contains a highly unique set of audio content creation and deployment features not found in any other enterprise learning platform that bridge the previously separate cellular voice network with the Internet data network. This allows organizations to extend the reach of training content typically only accessible via a network-connected computer or data-enabled smartphone to anyone with a phone capable of making and/or receiving a voice call.  As shown in Exhibit 1 on the next page, administrators create content from a variety of audio formats including voice recordings, music files and podcasts and then upload them to a secure, hosted CellCast Server where they are packaged and deployed to mobile learners.

Level 3 Content Types

The content options available at Level 3 span from spoken word content to episodic training modules and just-in-time updates, and even include community-generated content created by mobile workers and managers.  Level 3 content is also generally fast, easy and economical to produce and deploy, requiring fewer resources without sacrificing impact or quality. 

Typical Use Cases for voice-based mLearning content include:

Network Architecture for Voice-based Content

Content creation and access over voice networks, both wired and wireless, is actually quite easy.  In fact, as the Use Cases above suggest, this form of content delivery is as simple as someone making or taking a phone call from a colleague or friend.  On the other hand, the technical complexities of packaging and delivering that content is a little more involved and requires a seamlessly integrated end-to-end architecture.  OnPoint has spent more than 4 years creating and refining a highly specialized digital voice server that handles all in-coming and out-going voice calls and accepts these connections from either the mobile or standard voice networks (view Network Architecture Diagram). 

Separate connection points to the global SMS/messaging network as well as integration into an organization's private VOIP voice networks have also been provisioned to allow fast and easy access to all mobile workers across an enterprise.  Finally, specialized accounting and billing services ensuring accurate attribution and collection for all related transational services. 

Additional Considerations

All voice-based CellCasts require the provisioning of digital (or analog) voice phone circuits used to connect the in-bound caller or outbound server to the mobile learner.  The costs for configuring and deploying these phone lines can vary greatly depending on the location (country) and carrier(s) used by an organization.

Summary – Level 3

Because all Level 3 mlearning content is audio-based, extra media production time and effort are required by the administrator and additional tools/applications may need to be purchased and learned before high quality content can be generated.  Administrator training time to a level of proficiency is typically 1 to 2 days (depending on experience).  Content delivery also requires additional setup time, platform integration and other digital services including dedicated voice circuits to connect callers with the CellCast Server.  The incremental costs for these additional services as well as applicable transactional fees (billed by the connected minute) are directly proportional to the number of CellCast calls deployed that are accessed and connected.

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