Is your company considering mobile video training so remote techs can look up quick-fix solutions from the field? Well, now NASA’s pushing the very boundaries of mobile training — literally  — by deploying iPads equipped with software from learning management system provider Brainshark to astronauts for deep-sea asteroid-landing-simulation training. The following article first appeared on Mobile Enterprise and is reprinted here with permission.

NASA Uses iPads and SlideShark for Deep-Sea Training

NASA used the SlideShark solution from Brainshark to conduct and manage PowerPoint-based training during a 12-day deep-sea expedition this summer. The team from NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) brought the solution to a laboratory 62 feet below sea level as part of a training program designed to determine the most efficient way for humans to explore an asteroid. The crew relied on the solution to deliver critical training information and combat communication delays that would occur in an asteroid environment.

NEEMO periodically sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to conduct training at Aquarius, the world’s only undersea research station, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and located off Key Largo, FL. The underwater crew members, known as aquanauts, undertake missions that last up to three weeks at a time. With NASA and the current administration setting a goal to have humans explore an asteroid by 2025, Aquarius provides a training ground with an extreme and low-gravity environment similar to space conditions.

iPads on a Mission

In June, NEEMO sent an international crew composed of six aquanauts to Aquarius to simulate an asteroid mission, focusing, in particular, on developing techniques for fastening themselves to the surface in order to take samples and for coping with delays that would arise in communications. The crew members, all equipped with iPad 2 tablets, needed support for their PowerPoint training content during the trip which was provided by SlideShark.

By using the solution, NEEMO crew members could view and show first-time training materials on mission scenarios on their iPads and with PowerPoint animations, graphics, fonts and colors intact.

They followed step-by-step training videos embedded into PowerPoint presentations that could be paused as needed. The videos contained instructions on how to perform complex maintenance tasks, which the crew had not previously encountered, on Aquarius. NASA determined there will be a need for similar video-based training content for an actual asteroid mission, so crew members can have visual, step-by-step instructions on new tasks and/or items they may not have practiced recently.

During an actual asteroid mission, there would be significant delays of about a minute in communications between astronauts and their mission control center (MCC). Because of these time-induced delays, the current method of MCC guiding astronauts through each step of a problem isn’t practical for time-critical activities. Content and videos that address contingency scenarios and provide immediate, ready-made instructions were assessed through the solution, which also enabled simultaneous access by all team members to the most current, approved training materials and provided offline access to PowerPoint training content on the iPad.

Read the article on Mobile Enterprise.

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ABOUT Ian Stewart

Avatar photoIan is a veteran journalist who has covered sports for various news outlets. Previously, he was managing editor for an electronic-book publishing company and a public relations writer.