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Press Release: Nbcc Partners On Major Advanced Virtual-Education And Training ProjecT

Virtual-training company Alelo Inc. has partnered with Canadian e-learning leader First Mobile Education to bring virtual-education and training solutions to New Brunswick and the rest of Canada.

The partners envision using their solutions based on Alelo’s virtual-education and training technology to teach competency, communication and collaboration across generations, cultures, mindsets and organizational levels. The learning solutions will incorporate virtual role-playing, a technology that delivers personalized learning interactions with artificially-intelligent, computer-based characters programmed to teach, challenge, encourage and engage in life-like scenarios.

Today’s training modalities face the challenge of ensuring that every learner quickly achieves the target level of competency and retains it over time. Live coaching can be very effective but its high cost typically limits it to executive training. Self-paced courses based on slide-show presentations, videos and websites are less expensive than live instruction, but not very effective, and often boring and not engaging. The partnership’s envisioned virtual-training solutions based on virtual role-playing close the gap between the superior results of live coaching and the low cost per learner of self-paced instruction.

The partnership’s courses will provide significant economic benefits to New Brunswick, and Canada more broadly, by helping students and workers acquire vital skills for the 21st Century global marketplace. An early target learning solution will be for the assimilation of Syrian refugees into Canada. First Mobile Education will also guide the adaptation for the Canadian immigrant context of Alelo’s existing cultural-awareness training courses for humanitarian assistance in Lebanon.

According to Dr. Lewis Johnson, CEO of Alelo, “This partnership significantly contributes to Alelo’s current work partially funded by the US National Science Foundation to develop the Alelo® Author platform, our next-generation course-authoring system. First Mobile Education’s know-how will be invaluable in helping us meet our goal of making virtual-training technology available to a very wide range of course developers and learners.“

Gary Stairs, CEO of First Mobile adds, “This is a great opportunity for us to participate at the cutting edge of learning solutions by being an early adopter and development partner of Alelo’s authoring and learning systems. It will add interactive, intelligent dimensions to our learning games, which we expect will open new career paths for instructional designers in New Brunswick and the rest of Canada.”

“The outcome of our partnership with Alelo will help New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada differentiate and soar in the international marketplaces for educational technology. A key piece of our vision is to provide excellent investment opportunities for three large, multi-million dollar funds with interest in developing New Brunswick as a world-class e-learning hub: the $1.7-million NBCC-NSERC Mobile First Technology Initiative, the $13-million New Brunswick Industry Innovation Challenge investment for a Multi-Channel Content and Analytics Platform, and the recently announced $261-million New Brunswick Education and New Economy Fund.” concludes Stairs.

A key collaborator in the partnership is the New Brunswick Community College, an industrial partner of First Mobile Education. William McIver, Jr., Ph.D., NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Mobile First Technology at the college, explains, “The specific types of communications, training, and collaboration functionality to be developed by First Mobile Education and Alelo are vitally important to many areas within NBCC’s program of applied research.”

Alelo creates learning solutions that help people acquire new skills and apply them when it counts, changing the way people communicate. The company is a technology spinout of the University of Southern California that has been delivering game-based solutions for learning communication skills using virtual role-play technology since 2003. Alelo is now applying virtual role-play to workplace competencies and interpersonal skills. alelo.com

First Mobile develops mobile, eLearning technology that focuses on next generation learning. Its goals include enhancing Canadian curriculum locally and abroad, and providing program development and the delivery of e-learning solutions to schools and learners at the K- 12 and post-secondary levels worldwide. firstmobileeducation.com

By consulting with stakeholders in New Brunswick’s information and communications technology community, the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) Applied Research and Innovation identified Mobile-First as a research priority and a natural fit for NBCC, which offers over 15 programs in information communications technology. In the spring of 2013, NBCC was awarded grant funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), along with matching industry funds, to establish an inaugural Industrial Research Chair in Mobile First Technology. nbcc.ca/mobi