You’ve committed to making online learning part of your training strategy—but where do you go now?
Knowing you need online learning as part of your training program and knowing how to follow through are two different things, but an easy starting point is to determine what roles or tasks are already best suited for online.
What are your roles and required training?
First—if your agency has embraced virtual training—think of any roles you’ve already moved to online learning. Even if you don’t have any, you can probably identify tasks and associated roles that readily lend themselves to online training. For example, dispatch duties are well suited for online training, and many agencies have already moved those core training components to online environments.
Do you have a purpose-built LMS?
For these “online-friendly” roles, as well as those that could move online with minimal modification, a learning management system (LMS) will fulfill some of your needs. The key to success is to look for something built specifically for your industry. Properly realized and implemented, a purpose-built LMS environment that accounts for the specific needs of public safety will immediately streamline your training, even in unique or role-specific circumstances.
An LMS will bring consistency to online learning—pushing all relevant content through the same portal with attendance rates, test scores, and other relevant data viewable on the instructor/supervisor’s end.
Will your LMS handle blended learning?
Most public safety organizations will require more than a standard LMS. An organization might need a substantial amount of blended content, including:
State certification coursework
Online interactive modules
Online tests and grading
You should evaluate whether your LMS is flexible enough to handle the media and functionality you might require now or in the future as roles evolve and your training moves increasingly online. For example, are you able to access an integrated view of an individual’s training history?
Do you also need a TMS?
What about training that would almost never work anywhere outside the physical training space?
A training management system (TMS) can coordinate multiple interrelated processes, or work tasks that tie into or touch on training. In an academy environment, everything from housing and scheduling to inventory must be considered in addition to the actual training schedule; in a POST setting, tools that put dense collections of data (personnel who have completed an end-of-year training module, for instance) are just as important.
We previously covered a lot of what makes a TMS great, but it’s worth considering in any discussion about an LMS simply because of what the two do in tandem: If you’re only looking for an LMS when many of your related systems could also use a digital facelift, you are essentially putting yourself at a disadvantage before the first training module goes live.
If you’re like most agencies, with some online learning capacity but limited overall capability, a TMS can help make your planning and execution cleaner on everything related to training management. That’s especially true when the TMS is designed with the rigors of public safety training in mind from the onset. It’s worth considering a TMS now, before your circumstances force another major change to the learning environment.
What if you already have an online learning system?
Based on all this, you may think it’s easier to jump into an LMS or TMS when you’re starting completely from scratch—and while this may be true at some level, there’s a very good chance you’ve already implemented some elements of online learning, and perhaps rolled out an entire program.
The good news: Being mid-upgrade doesn’t freeze you out of an LMS or TMS upgrade at all. Agencies relying on a training system that meets some core needs but lacks others may want to investigate a full overhaul; others with more specific needs should consider a system capable of integrating with the tools they already have. In many cases, a tool built for the public safety industry will readily interface with the systems agencies commonly use.
In other words, don’t fret if you aren’t starting with a blank slate. Wherever you are in your migration to online training modules, there are tools in place to make your switch smoother, more efficient, and more effective following installation.
Of course, planning for online learning is only half the battle. But expanding your online learning is possible with the right technology partners and software solutions in mind.