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Mar 4 2014

#EdTech for Emergency Responders and Managers

By Thomas J. Crane

Topics: Information SharingResponseSocial Media

Years ago as a police cadet I sat through numerous 8-hour days of classroom training at the academy (struggling to stay awake on 5 or more cups of coffee!) and I can’t help but think I would have been much better prepared for the job if I could re-listen to many of the lessons. Let’s face it, after graduating from the academy most knowledge about constitutional law and police science quickly fades and on-the-job peer advice (right or wrong) trumps anything learned in the classroom.

A few years later I landed a job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and my training experience was equally as tiring since I was required to complete several lengthy self-guided online “Independent Study” courses—without an instructor or any peer-to-peer interaction.

Fast forward to 2014. Social and mobile trends are changing the ways people learn. Educational technology—or “#EdTech” for those following the trend on Twitter—has made learning more accessible and interactive. Webinar-based training is one popular type of #EdTech that facilitates synchronous peer-to-peer and student-instructor interaction, while traditional self-guided online training does not. Podcasts (see iTunes U) and video tutorials (see Youtube, SchoolTube, and Vimeo) allow anyone to watch and listen to instruction on a vast array of topics, which can, for example,  help the police officer who wants to brush up on constitutional law and police science.

That’s not all. Search engines and online peer groups make it easy to discover information and advice authored by field experts. Finally, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and video games make online learning more social, accessible and fun.

So, here’s the question: Is your emergency responder or emergency management agency adapting to newer and better ways to train and educate your people?

If the answer is no, then get started! Engage your training audience and analyze their wants and needs. Review your existing training programs to determine what content should be delivered in more social and accessible ways that foster ongoing learning.  

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