We live in a connected world, with access to endless amounts of information at our fingertips. We connect with friends, family, local and global businesses, entertainment and education, all from our mobile devices. Being part of an organisation with highly mobile and at times dislocated soldiers, one of the most important connections is missing… Defence! There are a number of Defence access points, such as DREAMS, DPN Smartphones, PMKeyS OSD, CAMPUS Anywhere, but Defence issued hardware has very limited distribution among soldiers and the information provided over the open internet is often constrained.
This pitch is two-fold: 1) the creation of the Digital Vuee Tuee (DVT), a mobile platform used by soldiers to access unclassified Defence information, training, notifications and news, and 2) higher degree research into soldiers’ motivation, use and acceptance of mobile learning on personal mobile devices.
For those who are not familiar with the original Vuee Tuee, it is a small plastic sleeved notebook, used by soldiers to collect and store paper-based resources. It is often filled with information and resources collected and shared by fellow soldiers, to assist in their day-to-day soldiering. The DVT will be no different, allowing resource collection and customisation, enhancing access to information and training, thus making soldiers more mobile and efficient.
Riemer & Johnston (2016) describe technological disruption as an important phenomenon, where new technologies bring about profound change to markets, society or in this case the organisation. At the 2016 Information Systems Foundation Workshop, Professor Riemer outlined 7 stages of disruption, and personal mobile devices, as the disruptor for Defence, have progressed through these stages:
- Technical Innovation – personal mobile devices hit the market.
- Initial Dismissal – these devices are dismissed due to perceived limitations.
- Gradual Emergence – user numbers grow along with speed and network coverage.
- Profound Change – personal mobile devices become common place within society.
- Strong Resistance and Late Reaction– personal mobile device use is restricted on bases, exercises and operations. Over time their use is gradually accepted in the workplace.
- Normalisation – soldiers are encouraged to use and engage with others on mobile devices, even during exercises.
- Wisdom of Hindsight – The “Why didn’t we do this earlier?” moment.
This normalisation has opened up a huge technological network of personal mobile devices which Defence can leverage. The benefits include:
- No cost to Defence – personal mobile devices are purchased and maintained by the member.
- Hardware updated regularly – new models are released frequently, providing users with the most up to date technology.
- Software updated regularly – iOS and Android platforms are updated regularly to improve functionality, add new features and increase security of personal data.
This benefit to Defence must be reciprocated to the member, to justify the use of device storage space and mobile data; therefore, the member must find the DVT useful. Features of the DVT could include:
- AIRN tracking and notification,
- Junior Leaders’ / Commanders’ Aide-Memoire templates,
- Trade/specialisation specific information,
- Base services – maps, timings and contacts,
- Army Dress Manual – graphical representation of orders of dress and placement of accoutrements,
- PACMAN – links and tools relating to pay and conditions,
- Major Events – information on major activities such as Exercise HAMEL RSO&I, and
- Professional Development – this will include a variety of content including basic soldiering skills, augmented reality weapons training and soldier’s fives.
The DVT is being developed as part of my current Doctorate of Information Technology studies, through the Australian Defence Force Academy. The DVT prototype will be used as part of this research to examine soldiers’ motivation, use and acceptance of mobile information access and learning via personal mobile devices. Based on Self-Determination Theory, it will examine soldiers’ mobile device behaviour when accessing learning content and activities embedded within a utility based application such as the DVT.
Gagne and Deci (2005) describes Self-Determination Theory as the continuum between autonomous and controlled motivation. In order to set up soldiers for self-initiated learning, autonomous motivation is key. For many, undertaking workplace training would require controlled motivation, usually a directed task to undertake training and would therefore lead to members being amotivated. In order to move toward intrinsic motivation, this external regulation must become internalised. Gagne & Deci (2005) outlines the levels of regulation:
- Introjected regulation is still quite controlling, and relates to the individual undertaking a task in order to meet a required standard within the workplace or to fit within a social norm. The directed use of a stand-alone mobile learning application would constitute introjected regulation.
- Identified regulation is the beginning of autonomous extrinsic motivation, where an individual’s own goals align closely with those of their workplace, and feel a greater sense of autonomy in their chosen tasks. If soldiers were to use a stand-alone mobile learning application that has been provided as a tool and professional development is encouraged by soldier’s hierarchy, this could be seen as identified regulation.
- Integrated regulation is the highest form of internalisation and the most autonomous type of extrinsic motivation. An individual believes that the task is not so much of personal interest but meets their own personal goals, rather than that of the organisation. A soldier exploring the use of embedded mobile learning autonomously within a utility-based mobile application, such as the DVT, would constitute integrated regulation, which is the goal.
My pitch provides two outcomes for Defence: 1) leveraging soldiers’ personal mobile devices to improve their access to information and training via the DVT, and 2) robust research into the motivation, use and acceptance of personal mobile devices for workplace information and training. This in turn will benefit the soldiers by providing access to information that would otherwise be readily available to them via the Defence Protected Network but inaccessible outside of the workplace, whilst also encouraging autonomous motivation to improve their soldiering skills through mobile learning.
Riemer, K. & Johnston, R.B. (2016), “Making Sense of Disruptive Innovation: A Strong Process Account” in: Information Systems Foundation Workshop. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. [no link available]
About the author:
Jay Douglas is an Educational Corps Officer currently undertaking a Doctorate of Information Technology, part-time through UNSW@ADFA. He is a former soldier, who spent the first 10 years of his Army career as a RAEME Aircraft Technician. He has since completed a Bachelor of Education (Technology and Applied Studies) and a Masters of Information Technology.