As government agencies continue to look for ways to do more with less, managers and trainers have come to realize the value of online training. Though it can be used in a group setting, using online training individually often adds to the flexibility of use as well.
Depending on the arrangement between the city and its employees, courses may be completed in between other duties while at work, at home, or in a combination of both so workloads don’t pile up during the training period.
Will Welch is a communications manager at the Texas Engineering Extension Service, known as TEEX, which is a member of The Texas A&M University System — one of the largest and most complex systems of higher education in the United States. Welch said that in the fiscal year 2011, TEEX programs attracted participants from all 50 states, five U.S. territories, the District of Columbia and 73 countries. TEEX offers online instruction that includes corrections officer training, electric power, explosives and ordnance training, fire, law enforcement, supply chain distribution management and more.
TEEX is also rolling out an online Firefighter 1 course that will change things drastically. Welch said it is for aspiring firefighters who just couldn’t get away to live on campus for the whole course. Now they will be able to take most of the course online and only have to make arrangements to finish up the last two or three weeks of the “hands-on” portion at the school.
Welch said he sees training for public service going this way at an increasing pace in the future. As people become more and more familiar with the online learning environment, he noted, they will see they don’t have to give up anything to learn online. It works hand-in-hand with other forms of training.
Lonny Wilder, vice president of Critical Information Network, concurs that online courses save both time and money. Wilder says that CiNet has been training employees for over 25 years with an online program that is continuously being improved and updated. The company has gathered thousands of hours of videos, so students are training from actual events wherever prudent and possible. Training instructions are given by renowned experts in their fields, and the program merges voice and video data together to create unique interactive learning experiences that connect public safety, healthcare and industrial operations professionals with the training they need to work safely, maintain certifications and achieve optimum performance
Lt. Luke Marchmon of the Copley, Ohio, police department said the first thing the department’s administrators check out when they are looking at online training material is whether or not it’s dated and if it’s cumbersome to use. The CPD is sold on CiNet’s Law Enforcement Training Network.
“LETN’s training program did identify the training needs of our department, said CPD Sgt. Jack Simone. “The courseware helps officers to constantly be working on training techniques and makes officers think and talk about the dynamics of the job.”
“They meet our standards and we get no complaints,” added Executive Director Liz Sibley, Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services of CiNet.
David O’Laughlin is director of training and use of force consultant at the nonprofit Municipal Police Institute of Massachusetts and has more than 30 years’ experience in police training. He calls the Municipal Police Institute the only online training opportunity of its kind in New England and touts its economic value as well. More than a third of the police departments in Massachusetts use MPI’s hybrid of instructor-based video and police tapes, which allows viewers to compare and contrast the difference between a good stop and a bad stop. MPI also stays current on laws and issues relevant to the New England area.
The institute takes into account all of the ways adults learn, but O’Laughlin calls video one of the best because “when you are looking up there on the screen at something that could happen to you and it goes wrong, it makes your heart beat faster and you pay attention.” O’Laughlin envisions the Institute expanding into other areas in the future, possibly including training programs for assistant district attorneys and emergency programs.