Audi of America has 2,300 dealership technicians, and this number is expected to grow to 5,000 by 2020. Audi Academy runs eight Audi Learning Centers across the country, with 13 instructors each teaching about 50 courses per year.
Programs and Tools
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Audi Learning Centers offer multi-day training courses to its technicians across the country. The courses are traditional paper-based student and instructor training guides along with instructor PowerPoint presentations. The automaker wanted to go mobile with its training courses by embracing newer technologies while trimming costs associated with printing course materials, instructor prep time, and the number of days technicians would attend training.
Immersed Technologies, a technical training and communications company, created a mobile learning solution tailored to Audi’s needs. Audi Electronic Diagnosis piloted the idea of delivering technical training curriculum in a more interactive and hands-on way in an instructor-led environment using tablets and educational apps.
“We needed to prove that the technology, the usability of the selected apps, and the learning curve required by the students in the new mobile learning environment did not get in the way of the learning or slow down the instruction time,” said Mike Brock, Immersed Technologies’ project manager for Audi Electronic Diagnosis.
Not only was this the first Audi technical training course to use mobile, it was the first time that many of the technicians had used tablets. The Audi Academy and Immersed Technologies chose the iOS platform for its intuitive ease of use, which would help decrease anxiety for the students and instructors.
The mobile course kicked off with a visual tour explaining how to use the iPad, a demonstration of all applicable apps, and a discussion of several options for taking notes in a paperless environment. As many of the technicians had little experience with tablets, this overview proved overwhelming to many participants and time-intensive for instructors. From this observation, Immersed Technologies was challenged to streamline the use of apps to maximize efficiency.
From the start, Brock’s team embraced Apple iBooks, which was used to build comprehensive student guides that serve as fully interactive textbooks for the course. Immersed Technologies programmed greater functionality into the iBooks platform to eliminate several external apps. What remained was a core group of applications that complemented the iBooks capabilities and rounded out the course offerings.
“We also gave students time to familiarize themselves with the main program, iBooks, and limited their exposure to the other apps until they were first used in class,” Brock explained. “By this time, the students were comfortable navigating through the iBooks platform. Soon enough, the techs were filling out the electronic repair orders, sharing information, and everything just fell into place.”
The project also tested the effectiveness of a paperless mobile learning environment and how that blends with other mobile learning initiatives. Immersed Technologies created a mobile app that enables Audi dealership and corporate personnel to access and search all of Audi’s Self-Study Programs (SSP) that have been developed over the past 15 years. Audi’s SSPs are often referenced as resource material within its instructor-led training courses and web-based training courses. With keyword search functionality, the new app enables the user to find relevant documents in seconds compared with a more time-intensive manual search through the corporate intranet.
Early in the development of the pilot course, Immersed Technologies discovered that one of the apps selected no longer worked properly when a new Apple iOS version was updated on the iPads. Brock’s team immediately contacted the developer to apprise them of the situation and researched alternatives to the impacted app. The team overcame the challenge with a new app and redevelopment. The original app developer never released an update that worked with the new iOS.
“Delivery and developing training curriculum in a mobile environment is much more dependent on the underlying software it runs on,” Brock said. “All stakeholders need to be cognizant of this fact and adhere to strict enterprise beta testing before globally updating iOS.”
By embracing the iBooks platform and programming greater functionality into it, Immersed Technologies was able to deliver a fully interactive four-day training course to be used in Audi Learning Centers across the country.
“The course critiques and exit interviews from two pilot courses proved we had a winning solution that far exceeded our original goals for the mobile learning project,” Brock said.