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Best Paper PIC V: m-Outreach for Engineering Continuing Education: A Model for University-Company Collaboration

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

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June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



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NEW THIS YEAR! - ASEE Main Plenary II: Best Paper Recognition & Industry Day Session: Corporate Member Council Speaker

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ASEE Board of Directors and Corporate Members Council

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25.257.1 - 25.257.18

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Gale Tenen Spak New Jersey Institute of Technology

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AC 2011-448: M-OUTREACH FOR ENGINEERING CONTINUING EDU-CATION: A MODEL FOR UNIVERSITY-COMPANY COLLABORATIONGale Tenen Spak, Ph.D., New Jersey Institute of Technology Gale Tenen Spak is Associate Vice President of Continuing and Distance Education at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey. She has extensive experience in the area of professional workforce development and continuing education programs and writes and broadly presents on these subjects. Her experience includes managing, developing, marketing, proposal writing, evaluating and implementing programs for professionals who require new education and training to keep their skill at the cutting edge. The programs she designs involve collaborations among academe, industry, and government; and utilize, as appropriate, online instruction. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science and Master of Science from Yale University, and her Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, phi beta kappa, in Political Science from Brooklyn College of City University of New York. Before joining NJIT, Dr. Spak was Dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Education at New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, New York, and, during America’s first energy crisis, served as the Director of the Center for Energy Policy and Research. In the later capacity, she managed federally-funded energy information and technology transfer programs in the United States and abroad; and wrote various reports distributed by the U.S. Department of Energy to every Governor and State energy official to facilitate energy efficiency information outreach activities. She also developed a Masters Degree Program in Energy Management and a combined Bachelors/Masters Degree Program in Architectural Technology and Energy Manage- ment which emphasized ”green” education. Her recent experiences include providing expert testimony to the NJ State Legislature regarding the capacity of NJ’s four-year colleges to rapidly retool professionals for new positions in the 21st century during an economic downturn. Other experiences include serving as a key strategy lead for the U.S. Department of Labor’s $5.1M grant to North Jersey under the Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiative.Peter Schmitt, Schmitt & Associates, LLC Peter Schmitt has extensive experience in both academia and industry. He started out with a study of physics at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany. He did his Ph.D. at DESY (Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron) in Hamburg and work at CERN (Geneva) as a postdoctoral research assistant for Harvard University. Peter Schmitt went into industry starting as project manager for the development or car phones at AEG in Ulm. In 1995 he moved to the United States to work for BASF in various IT positions, among them Director of Infrastructure in the U.S. and Project Leader for SAP implementations. In 2003, Peter Schmitt founded his own company Schmitt & Associates, which provides Online Training for the industry as well as reporting and analysis tools for business processes. Peter Schmitt has taught at NJIT as adjunct professor and is a member of the ASTD.Cesar Bandera, Cell Podium LLC Cesar Bandera is a founding partner of Cell Podium, an m-learning and m-health company situated on the Newark campus of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has deployed enterprise and public mobile multimedia campaigns for NIEHS, CDC, EPA, and several universities and private organizations. Dr. Bandera received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University at Buffalo, NY. His work in the field of multimedia has yielded a Small Business of the Year Nomination from the US Air Force, 2007 NJ Entrepreneur award, a NASA Space Act award, various patents and publications, and six Ph.D. graduates. c American Society for Engineering Education, 2011 m-Outreach for Engineering Continuing Education: A Model for University-Company Collaboration New Jersey Institute of Technology and Cell Podium, LLCThe most prevalent channel today capable of conveying educational and training content is thecell/smart phone. Cell/smart phones possess a unique combination of ubiquity, portability,connectively and low cost which together could make them a valuable educational tool.1 As amethod for providing training and education, m-learning is commonly defined as “e-learningcarried out by means of mobile computational devices” that are “small, autonomous andunobtrusive enough to accompany us in every moment of life”.2Today cell phones can instantly present the user with rich media (text, audio, images and video),opening new opportunities for “just-in-time” learning especially as one part of a blendededucation program that may combine other components using face-to-face and web instruction.Just-in-time learning is thought to encourage high level learning since the learner can access andapply the information right away rather than first learning the information and then apply it at alater time.3Education and training for busy, working engineers requires convenience, portability, low cost,and, at times, just-in-time knowledge. This population represents one example where trainingpartially using cell phones is germane. Working engineers often have little time to break awayfrom job-related projects to be taught in a classroom. But an opportunity to learn utilizing theirown cell phones could enable engineers to study during open time slots on their schedules, freetime at home and even at the precise moments when certain information is necessary tosuccessfully complete a work project.As a new instructional delivery system, most m-learning today is an extension of traditional web-based e-learning. Current m-learning is not yet fully exploiting the medium’s potential. That is,just as television was first treated as an extension of radio, by and large today, the web mostly isbeing treated as an extension of linear print. For example, m-learning participants typically arepart of an enterprise where trainers can pull into web-enabled company-provided smart phonessnippets of instructional content which once was taught in a classroom or online. This permitsgreater functionality than legacy wireless application protocol browsers but the content oflearning itself is an extension of the earlier media.A newer variant of m-learning is emerging. Whereas m-learning is an asynchronous transactioninitiated by the recipient or “pulled” by the learner, the newer variant may be called “m-outreach.” As its label suggests, m-outreach has a “push” characteristic to it thus enabling themaximization of skill and knowledge dissemination because it can reach consenting learnersautomatically (i.e. push out educational materials) as a multicast (one sender, multiple recipients)without learner initiation and intervention.This paper will describe the collaboration between a continuing education division of a publicresearch university and a start-up company housed within the university’s business incubator.The purpose of the collaboration is to pilot the company’s m-outreach tool with ProfessionalEngineers (PE) seeking to renew their licenses. Used to describe registered or licensed engineerswho are permitted to offer their professional services to the public, PEs, in most American states,must regularly take continuing education units in order to keep the PE designation. The start-upcompany’s particular m-outreach tool is capable of pushing rich media, which is a keyconsideration for educators because rich media can support the IT methods associated with goodm-learning such as high retention graphics, video and animation with voiceovers; and it does thisat the same time as it maintains the ubiquity of SMS-based text-only dissemination. That is,continuing education materials can be pushed out to the cell/smart phones of PEs’ registered forcourse(s) without their intervention (e.g., no browsing for information) regardless of the phonemodel, calling plan, or wireless service provider they own.In particular, this paper will discuss the following topics: 1. Existing models of university-company collaboration so as to introduce an atypical university-company collaboration in which the partnering company is a start-up which owns a potentially potent m-outreach technology. 2. Definitions of m-learning in order to better understand the unique educational potential for engineers of the m-outreach tool upon which this university-company collaboration rests. 3. Details of the technology behind the new m-outreach tool including the company’s track record in its utilization including results in externally-performed trials. 4. Obstacles to achieving university-company collaboration specifically focused on m- learning education and training deployment and why this example could succeed. 5. Pilot program underway by the university and company, which, as a starting point, is using the new m-outreach tool specifically for the benefit of PEs in need of continuing education to retain their licenses. 6. Conclusions and next steps.1. existing models of university-company collaborationWorkable university-corporate partnerships involve many intricacies which vary according towhich of American university’s core missions are being facilitated: (1) research; (2) education;(3) community service; and, more recently, (4) economic development. The university-companycollaboration described in this paper is essentially about #2 and particularly about education andtraining of working professionals which is the typical domain of continuing educationdepartments. While many other university academic departments and offices besides continuingeducation contribute, each in their own way, to regional, national and global economicdevelopment, the continuing education unit typically does so through the quality, timeliness andrelevance of its short term training programs both for incumbent professionals directly and forthe companies employing professional workforces who may or may not be alumni of thepartnering university. That is, through training and education programs, continuing educationdepartments can help companies hire and retain more productive and knowledgeable workerswho, in turn are key to their company’s success and thus to making contributions to overalleconomic development and prosperity in the broader community and region. Accomplishing thelater is of particular significance to public research universities.Many existing university-company collaborations for this purpose can be categorized byfocusing on two principal intricacies. One intricacy relates to the content of training; and theother to the delivery of training4 In particular, the first emphasizes producing curricula withlearning outcomes which match what key company leaders say is and will be required in theircurrent workforces or which labor/occupational data and statistics show to be required inavailable, “in-demand” job functions in the region. In this sort of partnership, the company’srole is to identify specialized content, which is well above any baseline education and trainingskills that all 21st century employees need; whereas the university’s role rests with designingcourses to assure that the specified content is exactly on-target. Sometimes this content isalready available from courses which are part of pre-existing university degrees; but increasinglywhen these courses are designed to address current workforce needs, they require customizationwell beyond the subjects covered in university off-the-shelf offerings. This is the case hereregarding PE continuing education license renewal courses.The second intricacy emphasizes the utilization of appropriate delivery techniques to transmit themutually-agreed upon educational content to the employees. When designed to address currentworkforce needs, delivery techniques can run the gamut from face-to-face instruction (forexample, conducted in the training rooms at universities, at other convenient sites such as hotelsand on company premises) to e-learning and m-learning distance instruction, and to approacheswhich blend or combine a number of these different delivery options together. The university’scontribution to the delivery option decision often revolves around the choice of which actualoption is selected for the training experience, assuming that the corporate partner is not marriedto one delivery method already. As educators, it is their core expertise to be the partner bestequipped to select the most appropriate delivery method to teach content in ways that canultimately result in the learner acquiring and retaining new knowledge and skills which they needto better perform their jobs. Assuming there is some flexibility regarding this matter, if acompany is partnering with a university to train its employees, management’s contribution to thedelivery option issue often involves overtly declaring support for the selected option to trainees;making financial investments to ensure the option deploys smoothly; and, if IT-solutions arebeing deployed, arranging for the training to have a place in the queue of the corporate ITinfrastructure. (It might be noted that if an individual is enrolling in university training, then theenrollee’s contribution to the delivery option decision takes a different form. Enrollees “votewith their feet” or in other words they sign up to learn a given subject, in some part, based on itsbeing taught in their preferred format.)However, in a departure from these more typical models of university-company collaboration,this paper describes a collaboration in which the partnering company is not seeking to have itsown employees trained or educated by a university. Rather, together the university and the start-up company seek to make use of the company’s singular delivery tool as part of the university’straining programs which are offered to other companies and individuals particularly fromindustry sectors which are related to the university’ areas of academic excellence. Moreover,this partnership is designed to provide mutual benefits both to the core profitability mission of astart-up firm and to the core training and economic development mission of a collegiatecontinuing education department. The parties involved are the New Jersey Institute ofTechnology’s (NJIT) Division of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) and Cell Podium,LLC.NJIT is a 130-year school which is the State of New Jersey’s public science and technologyuniversity. It originated to serve the needs of the business owners of Newark, NJ which oncewas a major American manufacturing city. Today NJIT has six academic schools and acontinuing education division that are dedicated to research, education of traditionally-agedstudents as well as working professionals, community service and economic developments (see: Alumni from its Newark College of Engineering and its College ofComputing Sciences represent 25% of the engineers and computer scientists working in a Stateknown for its high technology industry sectors. Having developed and trademarked the first“Virtual Classroom®” course management system in the 1980’s, NJIT provides education to itsstudents—both young and old—often using the latest e-learning, m-learning and soon m-outreach techniques, including the approach which Cell Podium is pioneering.Cell Podium, LLC is a mobile e-learning service provider and an award-winning developer ofmobile multimedia technology. It holds the technology to push multimedia training to cellphones regardless of the carrier or model of the phone and to deliver relevant brief theme-specific videos to users’ cell phone without their intervention (e.g., no browsing for information).At present, due to limitations in cell phone telecommunication design, each “pushed” out videois approximately two minutes in length; however, any number of such short bundles of learningcan be transmitted. With nothing more than the cell phone, users are able to replay and forwardknowledge/information either directly or via any social networking web site. The company wasfounded in 2008 in response to a critical need for mobile emergency responder training by theU.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Furthermore, Cell Podium is one of some 90 tenants of the NJIT Enterprise Development Center(EDC), which is the largest and oldest business incubator in the United States. Each of theincubator’s tenants benefits from university-related services supportive of new business growth.In particular, the EDC is a prime example of the recent trend among many American universitiesto facilitate the technology transfer of ideas originating not so much from its own faculty as fromscientists, engineers and researchers who are unaffiliated with the host university. To maximizethe potential for success of all tenants and to overcome growth gaps typical of start-ups, the EDCmanagement team provides tenants with an array of support services. These include: (1) trainingin state, federal, commercial and private funding sources, (2) referrals to university resources thatinclude academic experts, technology and manufacturing Centers of Excellence, MBA andtechnical student teams and interns to assist with production and strategy development, (3)access to university library databases, (4) introductions to firms providing legal, strategicplanning and accounting services, (5) invitations to Angel and Venture Capital events, toentrepreneurial forums, and to workshops on business acceleration, and (6) access to EDCIncubator Seed funds to subsidize grant writers and to hone business plan optimization,marketing tools, and organizational designs.Overall, CPE and EDC are but two university offices which in their different ways exemplifyNJIT’s commitment not only to the fourth mission statement of economic development but alsoto becoming a more “engaged” university. An “engaged university” is one committed to sharingand true reciprocity with private and public entities outside the university’s walls.5 Moreover—and of special relevance here—as one under girding strategy, for years now, NJIT has beenproactively and deliberately using e-learning and m-learning tools to facilitate its engagementand economic development strategies.6 Because of this long term commitment, CPE views CellPodium’s m-outreach tool as a promising way to disseminate just-in-time knowledge and skillsabout specific topics which matter to New Jersey’s professional workforces and companies, andthus are vital to the economy of NJIT’s region especially in areas which are in academic subjectsthat are hallmarks of NJIT’s educational strengths. Engineering is one such academic subject,and an effective training program for PEs would be another specific example of how NJIT isbecoming an ever more engaged university.2. what is e-learning and m-learning and how does m-outreach differ?Based on short-term, small-scale pilots largely in developed countries of Europe, North Americaand the Pacific Rim, researchers have begun to develop a taxonomy to understand differentdistinguishing features of m-learning compared to e-learning:7 1. Technology-driven mobile learning – Some specific technological innovation is deployed in an academic setting to demonstrate technical feasibility and pedagogic possibility. 2. Miniature but portable e-learning – Mobile, wireless, and handheld technologies are used to re-enact approaches and solutions already used in conventional e-learning, perhaps porting some e-learning technology to these technologies or perhaps merely using mobile technologies as flexible replacements for static desktop technologies. 3. Connected classroom learning – The same technologies are used in classroom settings to support collaborative learning, perhaps connected to other classroom technologies such as interactive whiteboards. 4. Informal, personalized, situated mobile learning – The same technologies are enhanced with additional functionality, for example, location awareness or video-capture, and deployed to deliver educational experiences that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. 5. Mobile training/performance support – The technologies are used to improve the productivity and efficiency of mobile workers by delivering information and support just- in-time and in context for their immediate priorities.8 6. Remote/rural/development mobile learning – The technologies are used to address environmental and infrastructural challenges to delivering and supporting education where conventional e-learning technologies would fail.The m-outreach tool described in this paper could fit under all but #3 of these categories above,suggesting that efforts towards taxonomy development are still evolving. However, as a meansof understanding what Cell Podium has invented, the categories may be useful especially whenthe following distinguishing feature is added. Whereas m-learning is an asynchronoustransaction initiated by the recipient or “pulled” by the learner, m-outreach can be understood ashaving a “push” characteristic which enables it to maximize skill and knowledge disseminationbecause it can reach consenting learners automatically (i.e. push out educational materials) as amulticast (one sender, multiple recipients) without learner initiation and intervention. CellPodium’s tool can accomplish this, thus its “m-outreach” tagging and a feature distinguishing itboth from e- and m-learning.3. mobile multimedia technology considerationsa. adoption among various demographicsThe statistics released in October, 2010, in the CTIA-Wireless Association’s Semi-AnnualWireless Industry Survey show a clear picture of dramatic increases in mobile devices with 93%of Americans now using a wireless device or cell phone and no longer just for cell calls.9 TheMobile Access 2010 tracking survey of 2,252 adults 18 and older including 1,917 cell phoneusers from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project provides more insightsinto the demographics of digital outreach.10 According to the summary of findings: Six in ten American adults are now wireless internet users, and mobile data applications have grown more popular over the last year. As of May 2010, 59% of all adult Americans go online wirelessly.Regarding cell phone use, roughly half of all adults (47%) go online in this way, up from the39% who did so at a similar point in 2009. Furthermore, two in five adults (40%) do at least onefunction using a mobile device, which is an increase from the 32% of adults who did so in 2009.Taken together, according to this survey, 59% of American adults now go online wirelesslyusing a laptop or cell phone, an increase over the 51% of Americans who did so at a similar pointin 2009. That is, even though cell phone ownership has remained stable over the last year, usersare taking advantage of a much wider range of their phones’ capabilities compared with a similarpoint in 2009. Of the eight mobile data applications Pew researchers studied in both 2009 and2010, all showed statistically significant year-to-year growth. (The eight mobile applications inorder of popularity were: taking a picture, sending or receiving text messages, playing games,accessing the internet, playing music, sending or receiving instant messages and recordingvideos.)Engineers, who are the focus of this paper, are typically over 22 with PEs being older yet giventhe years it takes to achieve the PE credential, meaning that a useful age range to examine isbetween 25 and 49. Other studies of cell/smart phone use provide insights regarding usagepreferences by age range. For example, data of a 2009 benchmarking study conducted by amarketing company shows that “adults under 50 are the most likely to be mobile users with 93%owning a mobile phone today.”11 This work identifies 14 different categories of “consumerinformation” in order to explore which types are most sought via cell phones by age range. Ofthese categories, the closest one to this paper’s engineering focus is “technology/sciences.”Results show that some 85% of 25–34 year olds and 78% of 35–49 year olds view their cellphones as the primary place to go for this sort of information.Engineers, not only are older than 25, but by, definition, are better educated than the generalpopulation. Pew Research’s 2009 Mobile Access Spring Tracking Survey of 2,253 adults findsthat use of a computer, whether at home or at work (see, green color coding in Figure 1)correlates with education.12 Some of those who use a computer also access the web with theircell phones (see light green versus dark green in Figure 1). Figure 1. Access to wired (tethered) Figure 2. MMS is the fastest growing and 2nd and mobile web largest data service among cell phone usersThe mobile media protocol most used is the Short Message Service (SMS), which conveys onlytext; the second most used and fastest growing mobile protocol is the Multimedia MessagingService (MMS), i.e., picture and video messaging including the high resolution graphics, videoand animation with voiceover characteristics of good m-learning (Figure 2).13 The m-outreachtechnology which is the focus of this university-company partnership employs MMS technology.As such, MMS can permit outreach to engineers for continuing education purposes to occur bymulticasting rich media and by enabling the recipient to forward it to others in his/her supportecosystem.Ubiquity, portability, and connectivity demonstrated by the demographic data may be reasonenough to consider cell-smart phones as vehicles to advance learning among engineers, inparticular, but there is an additional benefit. Given the ever growing popularity of these devices,if so deployed, it would mean that engineers would not need to acquire yet “another technologyto receive learning materials.”14 One example would be the iPad.b. challenges to mms in m-outreachIn spite of high user adoption of MMS, full implementations of the MMS protocol by devicemanufacturers and wireless service providers (i.e., carriers) have been stymied by the lack ofinteroperability of their SMS implementations.15 Multimedia messages are occasionally receivedwithout content, with poorly down-sampled content, or with content replaced by a URL wherethe carrier posted the multimedia (precluding MMS as an alternative to the web), as illustrated inFigure 3. Impediments to interoperability include the following, which are mostly independentof the sophistication of the mobile device itself: 1. Device manufacturers and carriers employ many media formats and delivery protocols, but any one user will only be able to receive a small subset of these formats and protocols depending on the user’s device, its date of manufacture, subscription plan, and carrier. 2. Software compliance with communications protocol and multimedia format standards varies among device manufacturers and carriers. 3. Carriers employ an approach commonly known as a “walled garden” which refers to the practice of carriers or service who maintain control over applications, content, and media on cell-smart phone platforms and who restrict convenient access to non-approved applications or content. The approach promotes subscriber retention with the vendor’s multimedia services, but it occurs at the expense to subscribers of interoperability with subscribers on different carriers. 4. Some carriers block subscribers from installing 3rd party applications on non-smart phones. These subscribers can only install software purchased from their carrier. 5. Repurposing traditional e-learning content to mobile devices involves extensive adaptation due to the instructional design issues unique to their small screens, keypads, and bandwidth. Carrier deleted an image Media received but Carrier deleted a video Incoming video re-sampled from an incoming MMS phone cannot render it from an incoming MMS by carrier, then plays poorly Figure 3. Problems commonly encountered when receiving mobile media.The successful delivery of m-outreach content requires tailoring it to each recipient. Oneapproach is to call User Agent Profiles, online descriptions of cell phone models (e.g., screensize, codecs) developed to assist automated content adaptation, but 20% of these are incorrect.16Moreover, a user’s preferred media format is not determined exclusively by the devicecapabilities; two users with the same cell phone may prefer different formats (among thosesupported by their devices) because viewing the higher resolution format requires pushing morekeypad buttons.To prevent tailoring content to an incompatible or suboptimal format, Cell Podium implementedan “opt-in” protocol for its m-outreach that asks each user to select a favorite format from amonga set of device-specific options. The user enrolls in m-outreach by calling a VoiceXML serverthat captures the cell phone’s caller-ID, pushes to the cell phone a set of numbered samplemultimedia clips, and asks the user to speak the number of his/her favorite clip. All subsequentm-outreach to that user is then tailored to the format of preferred clip. The user can also call toopt-out or change preferences. The user cannot select a format that is incompatible with his/herphone, carrier, or account because the associated sample clip will not have been rendered.Most modern cell phones will display at least two (and up to four) of the sample clips sent, andthe opt-in protocol is “encouraging” the user to select the clip whose format yields future m-outreach content with the best audiovisual quality. Consequently, the multimedia sample clipsare authored to exercise the internal components of the cell phone, including its audiovisualcodec, processing speed, speaker fidelity, and screen resolution. All sample clips include smoothcolor gradients that are best rendered with large color palettes (many bits per pixel), motion thatis best rendered with high frame rates and artifact-free temporal video decompression, and anaudio power spectrum that extends beyond voice band (Figure 4). Figure 4. High-contrast gradients, wipes, and wide audio power spectrum in sample multimedia clipsMoreover, the current opt-in protocol which Cell Podium is using does not assume of the userany prior experience with SMS/MMS, nor of any technical knowledge of mobile multimediaformats (the different sample clips are identified only by a large ID number rendered in thevideo, audio, and message header). Interestingly, while users with no prior experience with SMSor MMS sometimes have a difficult time sending a message for the first time, they rarely havedifficulty viewing a message that was sent to them.c. examples of current cell podium mobile multimedia outreach trial(s)Cell Podium was recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research contract from theCenters for Disease Control (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response todevelop and evaluate m-outreach tools for preparedness and response that supplement textmessaging with multimedia. In just a few months, CDC deployed Cell Podium’s m-outreachtechnology in two campaigns. In the first campaign, the CDC Emergency Operations Center ispushing videos to the cell phones of health care workers in Haiti that describe the guidelines forthe rapid rehydration of critically-ill cholera patients. In the second campaign, CDC is pushingpreparedness videos for severe winter weather to the open public.The health and safety of workers including those cleaning up the 2010 British Petroleum oil spillin the Gulf of Mexico is of top priority to Cell Podium and their clients, including the WorkerEducation and Training Program (WETP) of the National Institute of Environmental HealthSciences and CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Among the efforts toprotect these workers and the public who risk exposure to oil contamination is the offering ofmobile-accessible oil spill response training. Cell Podium has developed several just-in-timetraining videos from the WETP Oil Spill Response Training Tool that give crucial andimperative safety training within one minute for such topics as: Heat Stress and ProtectYourself. These videos are available in English and Spanish and are currently posted for freethrough the YouTube page, thus offering anopportunity for additional training for workers in the field, especially those with limitedexperience with chemicals.As another example of current usage of the m-outreach tool, Cell Podium has deployed andtested an application specifically developed for the Office of Public Health Practice and the NewJersey Center for Public Health Preparedness of the School of Public Health of the University ofMedicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. To wit, the Just-In-Time Training for EmergencyIncidents System (JITTEIS) serves “Skilled Support Personnel” (SSP).17, 18 SSP are deployed toaid first responders in emergency incidents, and include laborers, operating engineers,carpenters, ironworkers, sanitation and utility workers. Often exposed to the same hazards asresponders, SSP lack incident preparedness because their employment reinforces skilldevelopment and the range of potential scenarios is too broad. These factors increase personalrisk to the SSP and mission risk at the incident site. Providing education and training is essentialto the protection of workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires thattraining be provided for hazardous waste clean up workers and emergency responders, as well asfor SSP.19 The most ubiquitous mobile device among SSP is the cell phone. Through trials,JITTEIS met requirements to avoid being a distraction in an already stressful setting: 1. Lessons are audiovisual, maximizing imagery, animation, video and audio, while minimizing text. 2. The system does not require the learner to change any settings, on his/her phone, install any new software, or change cell phone, wireless service provider, or service plan. 3. Enrollment, authentication, lesson selection, and viewing minimize key strokes, password memorization, and maintenance of phone number lists. 4. The rendering of multimedia is tolerant of temporary wireless bandwidth decrease and signal interruptions.JITTEIS maintains a collection of brief theme-specific multimedia safety courses specific to thehazards that SSP encounter at the emergency to which they are responding. The health and safetyinformation maintained by JITTEIS is targeted to the role and anticipated hazards of theresponder. Upon an emergency, the Incident Commander, Safety Officer, or dispatcher selectsrelevant safety courses (see Figure 5). SSP deployed to the incident are enrolled in JITTEISwhich sends to their cell phones all lessons and messages associated with that incident, includingupdates. At any time, SSP can view the content on their cell phones, and forward it tocolleagues. SSP can also send photos and videos captured on their cell phones to JITTEIS viaMMS or email; JITTEIS stores all media submitted from the field and assigns it to the selectionof incident-relevant safety courses. a. Likely sites of influenza b. Testing PPE for proper fit c. Skin lesion caused by d. Suspicious white plume at rash (HTC on Verizon) (Motorola on Verizon) anthrax (LG on Cingular) fire (Nokia on T-Mobile) Figure 5. Multimedia learning modules on different devices and carriers.On April 2009, JITTEIS was evaluated by WETP at an emergency response training exerciseinvolving a hazardous chemical leak in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. JITTEIS was used todisseminate videos to the cell phones and mobile devices of the exercise participants, includingthe event alert; safety, chemical threat, and preparedness instructions; site coordination; and livepictures and videos submitted from the incident site by the participants themselves.Exercise participants enrolled in JITTEIS by calling the phone number of an automated attendantthat recorded the participant’s cell phone number and multimedia preference. During the actualemergency response exercise, thirteen courses were sent to each enrolled participant: sevenpreviously authored and stored in the content management system and six provided byparticipants for immediate dissemination. JITTEIS sent a total of 450 multimedia clips duringthe exercise. All registered users were able to view the clips on their mobile devices, even whentheir signal coverage did not permit them to make or receive phone calls. The average timebetween JITTEIS sending content and users receiving it was 30 seconds.The social nature of m-outreach is visible in the logs of JITTEIS activity during the WETPexercise (Figure 6). WETP announced enrollment instructions at 4:30 pm on 4/30/09, butenrollment activity began at 9 am as early adopters showed the JITTEIS sample multimedia clipsthey had received on their cell phones to others, particularly during breaks. Enrollment activitywas also high during the transmission of exercise courses at 8 am on 5/1/09, as more conferenceattendees witnessed the receipt of multimedia by users registered in JITTEIS and opted toregister as well. Figure 6. JITTEIS activity at 2009 WETP exerciseTo accommodate all possible mobile devices, carriers, and wireless subscriptions, JITTEIS usesa variety of messaging formats and transmission protocols. MM1 is the transmission protocolused to convey MMS (analogous to how TCP/IP is used to convey HTML), and supplementaltransmission protocols are made available to users of more advanced mobile devices, such assmart phones and netbooks. When populating the JITTEIS message library, Cell Podium staffuse commercially available software titles such as Adobe “After Effects” for authoring mobilemultimedia in all these formats from media assets (existing pictures, video clips, etc.), andanyone that can make “home movies” or animated PowerPoint presentations on a computer canlikewise use these titles without much difficulty. However, when relaying media residing onseparate media libraries, JITTEIS is designed so as not to burden the sender with formatconversion; instead conversions happen automatically into these formats.Cell Podium’s success to date in using their m-outreach tool for this kind of population is thesubject of research done already in akin populations, such as nursing, in which different m-learning tools are deployed. That research concludes, “Use of mobile technology in the healthcare field is growing at a fast rate because of the nature of the work health care workers perform.They are on the move most of the time and need to access information for just-in-timeapplication. Hence, the use of mobile technology to work from anywhere and access informationat any time is important for this group.”20However, what about other kinds of populations such as engineers?4. obstacles to m-outreach in higher educationWhile m-outreach may work for health care and counter-terrorism professionals, its applicabilityin different disciplines and professions typically taught in universities poses many hurdles.According to Traxler: …mobile education, however innovative, technically feasible, and pedagogically sound, may have no chance of sustained, wide-scale institutional deployment in higher education in the foreseeable future, at a distance or on-site. This is because of the strategic factors at work within educational institutions and providers. These strategic factors are different from those of technology and pedagogy. They are the context and the environment for the technical and the pedagogic aspects. They include resources (that is, finance and money but also human resources, physical estates, institutional reputation, intellectual property, and expertise) and culture (that is, institutions as social organizations, their practices, values and procedures), but also the expectations and standards of their staff, students, and their wider communities, including employers and professional bodies). Implementing wireless and mobile education within higher education must address these social, cultural, and organizational factors…Within institutions, different disciplines have their own specific cultures and concerns, often strongly influenced by professional practice in the “outside world” – especially in the case of part-time provision and distance learning. Because most work in mobile learning is still in the pilot or trial phase, any explorations of wider institutional issues are still tentative but it points to considerable hurdles with infrastructure and support. 21Nevertheless and with these precautions acknowledged, collaboration between a university’scontinuing education department and a start-up company, housed within the university’sincubator and which owns a particular m-outreach technology may represent a best case scenariofor success. In general, this may be true because collaborators in these categories have mutuallyreinforcing goals which can be maximized through partnering. That is, start-ups seek to becomeeconomically viable as rapidly as possible so that they can emerge from incubators to becomeprofit-generating new businesses. Thus, they relish opportunities to partner with universities as away to beta test, demonstrate, refine, and prove the utility of their patents and ideas in order toattract ever more generous new clients and customers. On the other hand, continuing educationdepartments seek not only to achieve their university’s missions of education/training andeconomic development but also, and consistent with the “cash cow” nature of most suchdepartments, to produce cold cash from new sources to contribute to their college’s bottom line.In recent years this imperative has become even more important especially at public researchuniversities across the country which are faced with diminished funding from state legislatures.Transient adult professionals registering for non-credit professional development trainingcourses and/or the companies who employ them are such a source of external funds forcontinuing education departments and their home universities.5. the njit cpe and cell podium collaboration: a pilot program for engineersIn January 2010, an external event occurred which specifically makes for an opportune pilotingof this new collaboration model at NJIT. The external event was the enactment into state law ofa requirement that, effective in January 2011, all NJ PEs must complete 24 hours of continuingeducation over two years in order to renew their professional licenses. Among the variousengineering disciplines, the PE credential is must often sought by Civil, Electrical, Mechanical,Chemical and Environmental Engineers. NJ is one of the last states in the country to enact sucha requirement for this profession. As the State’s public technology and science researchuniversity with some 25% of its alumni hired within the state’s borders as engineers and as aninstitution known for its leadership role in distance learning, a new niche for NJIT CPE wasborn. Especially relevant, too, is NJIT’s organizational structure where responsibility forexpanding distance delivery options for the benefit of traditional and adult learners is housedwithin CPE.As discussed above, most university-company collaborations which are created for the purposeof achieving a university’s education mission can be categorized by focusing on two principalintricacies. One intricacy relates to the content of training; and the other is about the delivery oftraining. While this collaboration has new aspects to it due to its being a partnership with a startup company, even here too, these two intricacies in part follow established patterns. That is,content is being developed, guided by State regulations, by CPE which is working with NJITengineering faculty, engineering alumni and with executives from NJ’s many engineeringconsulting firms. On the other hand, assuming that a company which is partnering with NJIT toensure that their PEs retain their licenses is not already married to a particular way to conducttraining, the intricacy of delivery option also is following typical patterns. That is, this intricacyis being shaped by CPE professionals who are in the best position to recommend the mostsuitable delivery method to convey the specific engineering concepts which the company needsits employees to learn. In this way, the mutual goal to teach professionals new knowledge isadvanced.However, in this collaboration and what makes it distinct, the particular technology, whichoriginates entirely from the start-up company, has become one part of the NJIT PE trainingprogram design. That is, if Cell Podium had not invented this m-outreach approach, thepartnership described here would not have come into existence.The first CPE PE training courses are short, no more than 4 hours each, and are being deliveredin a blended delivery model in which Cell Podium’s tool was incorporated by design both in thenear term and far term. The most immediate plan involves utilizing the tool’s capability tomarket or promote the availability of this new area of continuing education from NJIT. That is,at the time of this paper’s writing, NJIT media specialists have produced a short video clip aboutthis program in which a respected NJIT civil engineering professor is featured. This has becomethe raw material for Cell Podium to use to produce a promotional m-outreach MMS messageabout the training program. With access by CPE, at no cost, to the email addresses of NJIT’sengineering alumni, this informational m-outreach message was and will continue to be sent toNJIT alumni who “opt-in” to receive it. Non-alumni also have been given the means to consentto receive on their cell and smart phones similar short MMS messages about the trainingprogram.While no 4-hour PE training course will be conducted in its entirely through Cell Podium’s m-outreach tool alone (at least until such time as cell/smart phones are capable of showing lengthiermulti-media feeds), there is every intention to use Cell Podium’s tool as one element in ablended learning experience. That is, PE training courses are being designed to utilize, asappropriate to the content, a variety of delivery formats. These include face-to-face instruction atconvenient locations (e.g., on company premises, at hotels, and in NJIT training rooms);webinars using synchronous delivery platforms (e.g. WIMBA) and online courses usingasynchronous delivery platforms (e.g. Moodle). Contingent on the availability of sufficientbudget to CPE to produce short video clips, Cell Podium’s tool is planned to play a part in eachof these scenarios, especially about key topics most often associated with engineering “just-in-time” knowledge needs. Selection of which points to accentuate through MMS messaging isbeing made in concert with engineering firm supervisors and managers who are the best resourceto know what their professionals require to perform their jobs better.Other uses of Cell Podium’s m-outreach tool are part of the long term programmatic planning forthis training. These include various strategies to reinforce and facilitate retention of the contenttaught during each short course. For example, the MMS message(s) developed for use in anyspecific training class could be re-deployed for this purpose. Subsequently and spaced severalweeks apart, these video(s) will become the MMS messages which are sent to learner’s cell-smart phones. Learners then could play and replay the material just-in-time and at need. Thisway the retention of knowledge is visually and audibly enhanced. So utilized, the m-outreachtool can help overcome the known phenomena of diminished retention over time by learners ofthe new knowledge and skills which they had been taught.As Cell Podium and CPE pursue their collaboration what is already known is that there is awillingness and need between both parties to be agreeable and nimble in discovering amenablecontent to deploy through m-outreach techniques and in modifying the new delivery system toensure that the learning outcomes of clients are met.6. conclusions and next stepsM-learning via SMS has become commonplace. However, a lack of interoperability hasprecluded m-outreach through multimedia (MMS), and advances in mobile devices will notguarantee interoperability while carriers and device manufacturers emphasize product andservice differentiation.The opportunity to provide engineers with training they need by building on the high adoption ofmobile multimedia among their descriptive demographic (e.g.; educated and older) makesaddressing the interoperability issues of multimedia m-outreach an important research agenda.Moreover, pushed m-outreach could address other engineering informational gaps better thanpulled web-based content; since the former does not require the user to initiate the mediatransfer, it is shared more easily, and MMS is cheaper than mobile web access.The middleware presented in this paper achieves reliable profiling of the user’s mobilemultimedia capabilities, which are a function of device, subscription, and user preference. Tosimplify enrollment, this one-time operation is combined with an opt-in process, the latter beingmandated by anti-spam regulations of the FCC.Ongoing research by Cell Podium is progressing along three directions. First, Cell Podium isdeveloping algorithms that automatically detect the capabilities of the cell phone when the useropts into the m-outreach service (i.e., eliminating the need to view and assess test clips). Second,location awareness is being added to m-outreach to enable the delivery of spatially targetedcontent. Open Geospatial Consortium protocols are used to obtain the locations of enrolled cellphones. Lastly, scalability techniques are being applied to m-outreach like those used to lowerthe per-client cost of web-based outreach.Over time, the NJIT CPE- Cell Podium collaboration holds promise for the parties involved tosee mutually beneficial accelerations of research, profitability, and workforce education. Butconcurrently, as Cell Podium grows and as NJIT expands use of its tool, as appropriate, in itscontinuing education and academic programs, significant macro impact can emerge. To wit, atheexpected impact is enhanced economic development and prosperity for a region because of theincreased knowledge possessed by its engineering and scientific workforce.references1. H. Kynäslahti. (2003). Search of Elements of Mobility in the Context of Education. In: Mobile Learning H. Kynäslahti & P. Seppälä (editors), IT Press. Helsinki. pp. 41-48.2. R. Kenny, C. Park, J. Van Neste-Kenny, et al. (2009). Using Mobile Learning to Enhance the Quality of Nursing Practice Education. In: Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training. AU Press, Athabasca University, Canada. pps. 75-98.3. M. Ally. (2009). Introduction. In: Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training. AU Press, Athabasca University, Canada. pps. 2, 9.4. N. Elliot, B. Haggerty, M. Foster, G. 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