Helpful Tools For E-Learning Development in Public Safety

Previously I covered the implementation steps to apply when bringing computer based education into your police or fire department educational curricula.  Last month I shared the results of an on-line survey  recently conducted on the attitudes, direction and hurdles of computer lead instruction in public safety.

I received many good comments and feedback from departments both large and small. It seems to me departments that are not currently using  computer based instruction soon will. There are many implementation factors at play here; technology advancements, cost benefits, and younger student acceptance. All of which will be addressed and overcome.

Faced with the accelerated pace of computer instruction many departments may be asking:

“How do I begin and what tools do I need?”

To help answer this question I am delighted to welcome Greg Friese the Director of Education, CentreLearn Solutions, LLC. CentreLearn creates and distributes online training videos and interactive learning objects for EMTs, Paramedics, and Firefighters.

Greg is a leader and knowledgeable voice in all aspects of online training. Greg has offered to share with us the software tools CentreLearn uses to develop computer based training.

Some of the software tools we use are:

Microsoft PowerPoint: The ubiquitous slide and presentation development software from Microsoft has powerful features for creating animations, editing images, and inserting charts and graphs. Much of the script writing we do is done in the PowerPoint notes view. In general, we write the script first, then write descriptive slides, and then create and add the slide body content.

Microsoft Word: I have been writing MS word documents since high school. Word continues to have a core set of features for formatting and proofing documents I find invaluable. We export the audio script from PowerPoint into Word for voice talent. Quiz questions are composed and edited in Word before they are loaded into the CentreLearn learning management system.

Audacity and Sound Forge: Our voice talent and production staff record and edit audio files in Audacity and Sound Forge. Audacity is freeware/shareware that has powerful audio editing features. Newer versions of PowerPoint, as well as Articulate Presenter, also have audio recording and editing capabilities.

Articulate Presenter: PowerPoint slide decks and audio files are brought together with Articulate Presenter. The published output is a Flash movie that preserves most PowerPoint animations and combines the audio files into a compact file structure that streams comfortably on most internet connections. The Articulate publishing interface is intuitive and the support through the Articulate e-learning community is tremendous.

Articulate Engage: Interactive Flash learning objects pull a user forward to interact with the content and select content of interest to them. Engage’s “what you see is what you get “(WYSIWYG) editor allows us to insert images, videos, and text that quickly publishes into a compact Flash learning object. In every CentreLearn course, you will find at least two interactions – How to Navigate this Course and a Course Glossary. In addition, many courses contain numerous other tab, timeline, labeled graphics, and process interactions.

Articulate Quizmaker: Like Engage, Quizmaker is a WYSIWYG editor to produce quiz questions that can be interested into Articulate Presenter movies. In many of our custom content production projects our clients ask us to insert short knowledge retention quizzes between sections in the content.

Basecamp: With hundreds of courses and dozens in development at any given time we have a long list of to-do items to track on each CE course. We use Basecamp, a web-based project management app, to track and assign tasks, comment and communication about course development, and exchange course files.

Dropbox: Dropbox is a file sharing and synchronizing app that allows file sharing and accessing the same files from multiple computers. Dropbox is invaluable for sharing large files, like images and audio, between collaborators. It is also a way to protect important files in development from a hard drive crash or lost computer.

Xilisoft: Clients frequently send us videos in various formats and sizes for upload to our learning management system (LMS). In order to work with our LMS, we need a way to unify these file types and sizes. Xilisoft allows us to convert large WMA, MOV, MP4 and other file types to the preferred, smaller FLV format which allows for quicker load times in the CentreLearn LMS. Adjusting and setting video height, width, bit rate and frame rate is often necessary and is done with ease using this software. (read more about how we help organizations put their training content online)

Thank you Greg for sharing some of the tools you use.

If you would like to learn more or contact Greg directly you may reach him at:

CentreLearn web site: CentreLearn

CentreLearn blog: CentreLearn Blog Community

Greg’s Blog at: Everyday EMS Tips


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About Bill Booth

Authority on Strategic Business Planning For Public Safety, Police and Fire Training Centers. President of the Interact Business Group www.interactbusinessgroup.com and Managing Editor at www.respondergateway.net
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