LOGAN – Two graduate students from Utah State University were awarded 1st place in a competition sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Michelle Jensen and Aprel Mendenhall, graduate students in USU’s Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Department, won top honors in the Design and Development Competition at the Association for Education Communications and Technology (AECT) International Conference in Las Vegas on Oct 22.
According to a press release, NATO required competitors to research microlearning and recommend a plan to implement it to train NATO officers. Judges found the solution created by Jensen and Mendenhall won in terms of theoretical excellence, creativity and feasibility.
The plan, recommended by the two graduate students, was designed in the form of an app that helps connect NATO employees from 29 different countries.
Specifically, the release stated, they created Knowing NATO, which contains microlearning modules based on NATO-generated and user-generated content, social connections and motivational elements (they can ear badges, get “likes” and followers) to encourage uses to share their knowledge.
“We determined the best solution was to provide an app that officers and staff around the world would download on to their phones,” explained Mendenhall. “The app would allow them to have quick and easy access to small videos, short articles, podcasts, and info-graphics that were based on NATO content.”
“It’s a socialized learning app,” added Jensen. “Users can join a group like you would on Facebook and have conversations with one another.”
She continued, “What makes this unique, this is specifically for members of NATO from all over the world so they can learn from one another, connect with another and share what they know.”
Jensen and Mendenhall were so committed to making their design and prototype a winner, they met with a NATO official the night before the final competition and asked about the top five concerns facing the organization.
“It definitely stretched us way out of our comfort zone,” said Jensen. “We went back (to our room) and stayed up into the night, got up early and made some changes right before we presented. It was kind of this wild, real-world experience that helped us to grow in ways that we never could have grown in the classes we’ve taken.”
“The more we thought about designing something for NATO, we thought this could have a huge global impact,” added Mendenhall. “I think that is what made the competition for us even more serious.”