6 keys to getting personnel to use an online learning solution
Now that your department has an online learning solution here's how to make sure it gets used
This feature is part of our special guide on how to choose and successfully implement the right learning management system for your police department. For more tips and best practices included in the eBook, click here.
Every first responder knows that not all training is dynamic, hands-on work. Before (and often, after) engaging in reality-based scenario training, driver training, defensive tactics and other topics, there is a considerable amount of time spent in a classroom, watching an instructor read a PowerPoint presentation.
The fact is, most of these learning sessions can easily be taken from a classroom lecture and conducted online in a robust learning management system. This can save a police department time and money and improve the quality of the learner’s experience. Because of these savings, many departments are moving toward adoption of an online learning management system.
However, some end users resist the change. How does a training manager for a police department influence personnel to engage in the online system? Here are six proven suggestions.
1. Identify a superuser who can influence stragglers
Select an evangelist for online learning. Ideally, this is a line-level police officer who has the respect of his or her peers and has received robust training in how the system works. An evangelist believes in the value of the LMS the department has selected to implement and the benefits to individual learners. This superuser can help other individuals who have questions about everything, from navigating the user interface to accessing the most compelling content in a proactive and self-guided manner.
2. Assign courses and hold personnel accountable
Pre-determine specific assignments for the quarter or year and use automated reminders that prompt end users about deadlines and training requirements. If users are allowed to simply log on to an LMS when they have time, there is a high probability they will be scrolling a social media site instead, and their training will go unfinished. When officers are required to complete a task, they do it, even begrudgingly.
Start by assigning courses that are most likely to engage users with the training system. A recently created course on officer-down response, mass gathering safety or active-shooter tactics is more likely to make a positive first impression. Save the annual mandatory courses like bloodborne pathogens or slip and fall prevention for when personnel are more familiar with the training system and better understand its purpose.
3. Make LMS content part of the daily “routine”
Create an “every day is a training day” culture in your police department by assigning a short video each day for review during briefing. Five-minute videos can consist of a subject matter expert speaking direct to camera about a specific incident or a general concept. Videos can be scenario-based training or even real-world footage of a recent event.
Another way to create this everyday training mindset is to use the LMS to distribute memos from command staff — important documents like policies, SOPs, general order updates, incident debriefs and AG directives which are required to be read by all personnel across all public safety disciplines — in the online learning platform. Replace the old-school and ineffective practice of posting paper memos to a bulletin board or handing out at briefing by allowing personnel to read documents online.
This also allows the agency to track that the messages and documents have been read. The receipt and reading of the document is recorded in an individual's training files. This can help agencies to prove compliance on high-liability training which is required to be documented in a centralized environment.
4. Have trainers create their own custom content
Get the training cadre to add their own custom-made and blended learning curricula into the LMS platform. Remember also that the LMS can also be used to track of offline or classroom training records.
Off-the-shelf courses certainly have tremendous value, but public safety personnel tend to respond even better to training content that is unique to their jurisdiction or agency. Trainers who are able to design curricula with video of scenarios captured at recognizable places in town will have a more realistic training experience.
For example, if an agency is going to present training on how to self-apply a tourniquet with the officer's non-dominant hand, the trainer could require that a video he or she had recorded on the topic be viewed online before the hands-on practice and competency assessment session. Record the video at a location in the jurisdiction that is well-known to the officers, increasing the value of the segment.
When the officers arrive at training, that portion of the instruction has already been completed, and the learners can immediately get to work practicing that skill. In addition to saving time in the mattroom or training room, this practice encourages use of the LMS platform, and makes the end user’s experience better.
5. Train the training cadre on how to use templates for easy upload of their course assets
Don’t forget your training cadre. It is vital that the trainers be given specialized and detailed training in how to utilize the system. The better the training staff is at getting custom content into the system, the more content they will produce, thus increasing the value of the platform for the end user.
6. Encourage the training staff to have patience with the process
Just like any other change in policies and procedures, there will be individuals who enthusiastically embrace the new way of doing things. However, at least at first, there will be people who resist change and refuse — to the extent possible — to use the system. There may be a small percentage of people who complain about the new system all the way to retirement.
Training staff must not get disheartened and discontinue their work in assigning existing courses as well as creating new training content. In time, the stragglers will come around.
Recognize also that there will also be large group of personnel who are willing to use the system, but just need some direction in to get started. Don’t lose focus on the primary goal — more and better training — because of a small percentage of grumblers and foot-draggers. Focus on the majority of personnel who are willing to make the change with leadership and encouragement from the training cadre.
An online learning management system can help make any police department’s training program more effective and efficient. Remember - bring in a superuser early to gain support and maximize the use of the available feature functionality, like building your own courses. These things, along with creating that “every day is a training day” mentality, can ensure your agency sees strong utilization.