Much has been written, presented, researched and said about the influence, impact and trend of on-line learning in law enforcement and the fire service. How do you get started and what are the steps to implementation into the public safety training environment. In my daily work as a strategic planner of public safety training centers I am often asked to assess what training is best suited for the on-line environment and what training is best delivered on the drill ground.
I am expected to stay current with technology, budgets, and mindset, when offering guidance to public safety departments who ask for my professional opinion. For example, here are some of the typical questions most public safety departments ask:
- What classes must be delivered at the training center and what classes can be taught by computer or on-line at the station or at home?
- What is the cost benefit of computer/on-line training over traditional instructor lead classes?
- Should we buy off-the-shelf prepackaged software?
- Should we develop our own courses?
- What type of infrastructure (computers, high speed connection, etc.) do we need?
- Will it keep us compliant with legal requirements?
- How do we track and schedule our training?
- What class topics will best be learned through e-learning?
To stay on top of this I frequently speak with the vendor community of courseware providers and hardware manufacturer’s (such as smart screens, computers, smart phones and tablets). Also, I read industry publications attend the leading national conferences and manage a LinkedIn Group dedicated to Public Safety Training Facilities (the Group only accepts members from the public safety industry, click the link to request membership). Above all else I find my most important source of information on computer lead training of course are the public safety training officers and instructors themselves.
Several months ago I taught a class on successful strategies and tactics for implementing on-line training and education. The class curriculum required a “status report” on the state of computer based training in public safety. In preparation for the class I conducted a web based survey of public safety trainers and senior staff officers. The reason for this specific group was to better understand and hear from trainers in the classroom and those in budget decision positions. As the saying goes:
"Go to the source to the find the truth"
The purpose of the survey was to better understand and identify the technical and educational state of on-line and desktop computer based training. Following are some of the survey questions. I have selected these to highlight because they are broad in nature but offer specific insight to the state of things for online and computer based training in public safety.
Respondent Department Type
Are you using any form of computer based training?
If you use computer based training at your department, did you?
If you use computer based training, please rate the factors in your decision, in order of priority? (weighted response)
If you use computer based training, will you? (weighted response)
After collecting and compiling the survey results I took them to the class. During the class I asked students, by the way for the most part they were from the same demographic as the on-line survey respondents, public safety trainers and senior staff officers. Interesting but not surprising their responses followed the on-line survey responses almost by the same margins, confirming and validating the trend, and direction of computer based instruction.
The one response that stood out most for me was the overwhelming response to question “If you use computer based training, will you?”. A large 58.3% of respondents currently using computer based instruction plan to use it more in the future.
Future posts will explore further into the “How To” topic of implementing computer based training, including:
- Overcoming Management Objections
- Preparing a Budget Plan and Cost Benefit Analysis
- Setting Up A Implementation Team
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