In the digital era, learning and communication can happen anytime, anywhere, at any pace, and on any device. With the emergence of COVID-19, the relevance of virtual learning and communication is now growing more rapidly than ever before. Several industries, including healthcare, life sciences, government agencies and public sector companies, are looking at virtual technologies to enable multi-dimensional outreach and engagement with their users in order to empower them to activate positive and life-enhancing behaviors
However, there are numerous barriers and challenges to overcome when it comes to imparting training and education virtually. Companies need to be mindful of factors such as user experience, compliance, accuracy, security, relevancy, and accessibility, among others. Content developers, project managers, instructional designers, and course reviewers from different geographical locations should be able to collaborate on the same course content simultaneously, thereby reducing production time and potential delay. These capabilities have become particularly important to the business environment of today, which still requires most employees to work from their homes.
This is where Appliedinfo Partners, Inc. (AIP) comes into the picture.
“Most online training companies use standalone desktop tools to develop content, while we leverage our unique DIF® enterprise platform, which was originally developed for the US Army’s cloud infrastructure. To train and engage today’s ‘digital native’, we utilize a gaming-based approach and interactive 3D multiplayer courseware to teach complex subject matter,” says John T. Lau, Co-Founder & President, AIP.
AIP: About the Company
Founded in 1990, by Betty Lau and John Lau, AIP provides interactive learning, software solutions, and digital communications services.
AIP is a minority- and woman-owned small business, headquartered in a 50,000 square foot solar-powered building in Central New Jersey. The team is comprised of 70 employees, including software and gaming developers, communications strategists, instructional designers, video producers/editors, and animators. The company also employs experts in life sciences, with a focus on meeting the needs of cancer patients and oncology providers, as well as end-stage renal disease patients undergoing dialysis.
AIP’s portfolio consists of three divisions:
D2 TEAM-Sim – Developer of the Distributed Instruction Framework (DIF®), an enterprise-wide interactive training and e-learning platform. With DIF®, different stakeholders can utilize a variety of interactive assets to rapidly create and update engaging courseware collaboratively.
The DIF® platform’s virtual learning capabilities make training content accessible from anywhere, at any time, and at any pace. As a result, learners gain the ability to view content on an individual basis as needed, making it easier to retain bite-sized information in order to prevent knowledge degradation. DIF® provides clients with the capability to update and deploy training content quickly and courses can be modified within minutes.
“We configure and reuse content to the specific needs of our audience – something most of our peers avoids due to the additional focus and effort that is required. We understand that training is not ‘one size fits all’, and content that resonates with one group may seem irrelevant to another,” adds John. "As a use case, we created a library of cybersecurity awareness training by using a unique blend of content, research, and educational principles training program that focuses on promoting awareness skills and behavior changes that best improve cyber safety."
ILLUMIGEN Digital Health – A division focused on learning and communications solutions, as well as services for healthcare, life sciences, and patient advocacy organizations. For the last five years, AIP has been creating a series of oncology and clinical trial-specific learning experiences that have won multiple national awards. This library of content and methodology can be reused for future patient and healthcare provider education programs resulting in improved patient engagement and outcomes.
D2 Creative - A digital agency that delivers strategic marketing, branding, website development, and video production services for corporate, healthcare, and non-profit clients.
AIP's “PTI” Architecture: Robust Online Learning and Communication
In response to the rapidly evolving demands in the virtual learning technology sector, AIP has designed an innovative eLearning architecture for education and communications professionals in mission-critical industries, such as healthcare, cybersecurity, and national defense.
"Using a 'System of Systems' approach to eLearning, we began to identify a clear and distinct process for each of the key phases in the life cycle of content development: Analysis, Development, Deployment, Refinement, and ROI Measurement,” adds John.
The model is divided into three layers: Process, Technology, and Intelligence (“PTI”).
The PTI model helps users gain access to a process that has been finely honed and focused specifically on their unique goals. For example, AIP recently pioneered a Short Form Content Creation process for healthcare communication and education called ILLUMINATIONS.
ILLUMINATIONS uses character animations, visual metaphors, and a touch of humor to help convey abstract scientific concepts in memorable and non-threatening ways. This approach to education is intended to diffuse negative emotions experienced by cancer patients during treatment so that they are more receptive to learning.
The ILLUMINATIONS content is also easily shareable so that patients can provide contextual education and information to family and other important members of their support network. This sharing capability allows patients to enjoy the benefits derived from “informed” collaboration and support from their loved ones and other valued parties.”
"ILLUMINATIONS is only one example of how the PTI model can be used to produce targeted content. Other proven methodologies for adult education, such as ‘bite-sized learning’ and ‘content chunking’ made famous by online learning organization Khan Academy, inspires every piece of content we create," says Dennis DiVenuta, JD, Executive VP, AIP.
Courseware, built on AIP's proprietary DIF® can integrate a wide variety of interactive assets, such as videos, 2D/3D graphics, and game-based simulations, thereby providing an immersive and engaging learning experience.
DIF® also features a quiz-building capability with built-in feedback and remediation options. The platform enables complex course branching and animation using a non-programmatic event system. All DIF® assets and courses are stored in a Centralized Asset Management Repository, thus minimizing instances of duplication.
"Through the use of this repository, proponents can work together to rapidly create courses from both new and previously uploaded materials. DIF®’s modular approach to design also allows developers to quickly replace individual outdated assets over time to easily and efficiently keep all content current through minor updates," adds Suby Gupta, Chief Technology Officer, AIP.
DIF® allows users to choose from a broad list of formats. Courses, built using HTML5, can be accessed from any device and viewed on SCORM compliant LMSs, web browsers, or mobile devices, including virtual reality (VR) /, augmented reality (AR) goggles.
While most standard machine learning models rely on simple pattern recognition and data correlation algorithms to generate courseware improvements, the PTI model uses AIP’s ILLUMINATE Data Analytics Engine.
ILLUMINATE is a flexible and versatile artificial intelligence (AI) framework that marries cutting edge machine learning (ML) technology with expert domain knowledge from modern education research. Currently, nearly all industry applications of AI/ML are limited to the use of “black-box” algorithms for making single-use predictions that could equivalently be achieved using standard statistical analyses.
In contrast, ILLUMINATE continuously learns how to create detailed and context-dependent representations of both course content and structure that evolve with each new instance of user-interaction that it encounters.
"By using advanced neural networks to further empower standard machine learning capabilities, ILLUMINATE is able to categorically measure the behavior of learners. It then utilizes the gathered information to automate the self-enhancement of learning content. As a result, ILLUMINATE can swiftly and reliably contribute to improving a learner’s capability to acquire, retain, and employ knowledge," adds Betty Lau, CEO, AIP.
AIP is also focused on addressing critical needs that evolve due to current events. The company leveraged its development and production capabilities to create an educational campaign for COVID-19 in the early spring of this year. Utilizing the highly appealing and stress-reducing character designs depicted in ILLUMINATIONS, AIP was able to successfully promote the benefits of handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a mask.
“Upon a vaccine’s release, we also intend to create a series of educational videos in an effort to increase vaccine adoption,” adds Betty.
AIP: At the Helm
John T. Lau, President & Co-Founder
John has been in senior IT management positions for several major Fortune companies. He is recognized for his expertise in technical project management, design, implementation, and study of sophisticated systems. He has more than 35 years of experience in optical imaging/document workflow, system development, data communications, and eLearning platforms.
Betty Lau, CEO & Co-Founder
Betty is a 30-year entrepreneurial veteran with a background in computer science. Her technical leadership resulted in the development of AIP's initial product, DivTRAK®, a leading diversity supplier management software, as well as DIF®, the award-winning enterprise-wide online content development framework used by the US Army. In addition to her CEO duties, Betty continues to oversee the enhancements and maintenance of DIF®.
AIP is working on developing new methods where VR and AR can be used to help shape virtual learning. The AIP team includes experts in virtual simulation and game development, who are tasked with researching how it can apply advancements in these fields to modernize the process of education and training.
“We hope to leverage these evolving technologies in the future, along with AI and ML. Our goal is to stay at the forefront of the digital age; to observe, engage with, and apply any advancements within the forum of distributed learning,” concludes John.