Need Help Implementing Online Training At Your Fire or Police Department?

Child Raising Hand

Learning Starts Early and Never Ends

How did you answer the question?

“Yes, we need to do something.”

“Yes, we tried, but we have to make a change.”

“Yes, we need to get started, let’s give it a try.”

“We have already started, it’s working, but we can do better.”

I recently taught a class titled, “Strategies & Tactics for Success with On-Line Training and Education.” The class focused on online training in public safety departments. The audience was Training Officers,  Directors, Chiefs, Department Budget Staff, Technology Officers, and Instructors.

Sound Familiar?

Most class attendees fell into one of the following four categories:

  1. We have been meaning to look into computer based training, but can’t seem to find the time or budget.
  2. We don’t know really how or where to begin.
  3. We need to reduce our training budget; will computer courses help me do that?
  4. Yes, we bought some on-line courses, it’s working OK, but we can do better.

NOTE: Although the class was attended primarily by fire service staff, the subject matter of Online and E-Learning could easily crossed over to law enforcement and all areas of safety training.

Why You Should Keep Reading

Attendees to the class or readers of this post (you) have an interest in learning about how to:

  1. Start using online learning courses and technology.
  2. You are in the early staging of incorporating online training and want to avoid rookie mistakes.
  3. Develop a tactical (short term) and strategic (long term) plan for using and benefiting from online learning.

Following is a summary synopsis of the class.

#1 – Start With The End In Mind

If a public safety department, police, fire, EMS, etc. is considering implementation of online learning technologies the training chief or project team leader must establish their end game goals. Using the following three principles when developing the specific goals and objectives for the project will serve as the guiding principals for the project.

  • Be specific—identify exactly what you want to accomplish with as many specific details as possible.
  • Be measurable—as the old adage says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
  • Be realistic—set goals and objectives that reach beyond the comfort zone, but are also realistic. Be careful with this one.

#2 Establish Implementation Tactics

There are ten key implementation tactics needed for successful implementation of online learning for a public safety department; they include:

  1. Establish a project team. Include other “banner carriers” and allies.
  2. Define the vision and goals. What does a successful program look like?
  3. Define learning needs and wants. Why are we doing this and what solution does it provide?
  4. Define established technology infrastructure. What does your existing technical infrastructure look like?
  5. Define existing courseware. What do already have that can be used or repurposed?
  6. Baseline available technologies and courseware. What technology is available in the marketplace?
  7. Develop implementation and phasing scenario. What is your step-by-step approach?
  8. Develop cost budgets. Consider purchasing equipment, software, hired technical assistance, and so on.
  9. Measure and evaluate cost benefits. Set milestones that are measurable, observable, and serve as progress markers.
  10. Management buy-in and funding. Get everyone on the same page and get them to support the endeavor.

Where and How To Begin

As illustrated in the 10 implementation tactics, getting started requires considerable planning, management buy-in, technology understanding, and funding. When first staring out ask yourself the following seven questions. This a good starting point and the questions will help you to understand the full needs, impact and depth of the project:

  1. What authoring system should we use?
  2. Should we buy off-the-shelf prepackaged software?
  3. Should we develop our own courses?
  4. What type of hardware do we need?
  5. Will it keep us compliant with legal requirements?
  6. How do we track and schedule our training?
  7. What class topics will be best learned through e-learning?

This post is intended to provide a short synopsis of how to get started with implementing online training programs for your department. Again, this is just a guideline to get the ball moving.

Share Your Story

If you use computer based training what was the biggest hurdle to overcome at the beginning? For example:

  • Staff acceptance
  • Management acceptance
  • Allocating funding
  • Acquiring hardware

Leave your “biggest hurdle” comment in the comment space below.

Additional Information Sources

More Ways to Learn:

  1. LinkedIn Group – Public Safety Training Center Planning, click here to join
  2. Public Safety Training Newsletter – a monthly e-newsletter covering the top news, event and announcements in Public Safety Training. Click here and sign-up (lower right) to read the current issue and get updates
  3. Responder Gateway – A full featured First Responder news and resource hub. One Place, One Stop, One Source, Visit here and receive daily or weekly fire service or law enforcement news events, alerts or important announcements.
  4. Bill Booth Blog – Timely opinions and articles, around twice a week on issues and comments about public safety training center management, funding and operations. Click here to read and get updates.
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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 and Managing Editor at
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8 Responses to Need Help Implementing Online Training At Your Fire or Police Department?

  1. Greg Friese says:

    Thanks for the insights and implementation tactics. From my perspective, an author of online courses, one of the biggest hurdles I see is contentment or complacency with the status quo of training. Paramedics and other public safety personnel are well conditioned to receiving lecture based content in a classroom. The lecture requires minimal instructor prep, can be given over and over, and demands little engagement from the student. Despite both the shortcomings of the educational methodology effectiveness and the cost of classroom based training it carries on. Inertia.

    Transitioning any lecture based content to online delivery takes an initial push or effort but then frees up face to face time for hands-on practice and competency checks, skills practice, case discussion, and other higher level training. Don’t waste valuable (expensive) face to face time giving lectures.

    • BillBooth says:

      I fully agree Greg. Change is hard, status quo is easy. As the younger breed of firefighter or police come into prominence I think they will demand technology in learning. And from a business perspective, as you said, freeing up time for hands-on practice just makes more sense.

  2. Pingback: Helpful Tools For E-Learning Development in Public Safety | Bill Booth Blog Interact Business Group

  3. Donna Mitchell says:

    I work for a law enforcement agency in Australia. We have elearning, but the demand has grown more quickly than our staff have. I have been asked to develop elearning standards so that when clients from different police units come to me, I can give them a package informing them of what they need to know. Any good resources that you know of detailing good elearning standards

    • BillBooth says:

      Are you looking for technology standards, such as hardware type, internet speed, etc or are you looking for educational standards, such as available eLearning classes that are available for purchase?

      • Donna Mitchell says:

        Thanks for replying. I know I am not looking for technical specifications, and I am not looking for products to buy. I am managing a LMS which has a small number of courses (15 or so). But we have no Client Charter, for want of a better word. When a client comes to me asking for us to design an elearning course I would like to be able to hand them some guidelines that give them enough information to start preparing their content, delivery strategies, inter activities. I am new to this area, and was wondering if there is standard guidelines.

        • BillBooth says:

          Here is a link to a web site has many excellent ideas that I think will help you. Here is the link – have a look around there are many excellent ideas from people that really know their stuff. Also go to this specific link and download their e-learning Hand Guide. If you can not download the pdf file, send me your direct email address and I will email it to you directly
          If this does not help let me know I will try to help.

          • Donna Mitchell says:

            Thank you Bill, there are so many resources, it is hard to know where to start. This has given me a place to start my research. I was able to download the PDF file. Thanks again.

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