In reviewing the EMI Monthly Newsletter (March 2021), I was not surprised to see EMI coming to many of the same conclusions on best practices with virtual delivery as we have. The first take away from the newsletter is that virtual training is here to stay! Certainly, there are some curriculums that are better suited for a virtual delivery than others, but the pertinent message is that virtual will continue to play a big part in delivering training. Face it, the overall cost of attending a virtual course is less and you don’t take people out of the field. Just look at the cost comparison in my previous article.
The Blue Cell has been delivering virtual ICS and G Series courses broadcasted from our Interactive Training Center in Colorado for nearly a year now. We have trained roughly a thousand students in that period of time from a wide variety of disciplines: fire service, law enforcement, health department, NGO staff & volunteers, power companies, emergency managers and State & Federal employees. Delivering a virtual multi-day class takes a lot more out of the instructors to manage and deliver the class than in-person class to do it right.
First of all, you need a Producer to manage the technology and assist the instructor(s). At The Blue Cell we have a staff of four Producers who not only manage virtual courses, but also produce video and podcast content in studio. Of course you must also have qualified Instructors that understand and know the material and experience with the virtual platform. As we all know, software updates can come at the worst possible time, so making sure all updates have been installed and system checks prior to class are vital to a successful delivery. Instructors must also have the persona to control the class, starting off with an overview of the platform, course and expectations of student participants. Then at the appropriate time, based on course tempo, doing a participatory review to check for understanding. Finally each course requires a test and evaluation, not only to check student understanding and whether they have adequately learned the content but also to gain feedback so our staff can continually improve our process and delivery.
In the newsletter article, the topic of a blended delivery was showcased. What is a blended (AKA hybrid) course? It is a course consisting of in-person and virtually connected students simultaneously. Our Hybrid G2300 class several weeks ago was a huge success! We brought in a small group of students into the Interactive Training Center (ITC) at our headquarters location. (We followed COVID 19 social distancing and masking protocols.) We also had additional participants connected virtually and instructors that participated in-person and virtually throughout the 3 day course. All was broadcast from the ITC.
The Blue Cell is the Nation's most active in-person and virtual Incident Command System and Consequence Management training company. Want to learn more about delivering training in a virtual environment and picking up some new techniques? You won’t want to miss the North American Virtual Training and Exercise Conference.
Jim Erickson has been working with the Public Safety and Emergency Management industries for 13 years providing hi-speed mass communication services, content and training management solutions, and disaster planning and damage assessment systems.Prior to entering the Public Safety and Emergency Management markets, Jim spent 20 years selling enterprise and government products and services with Moore North America, Rosetta Technologies, and Xerox Corporation.
Jim was born and raised in Southern California and relocated to Colorado with his wife, Ann, in 2000. They have four sons, whom Jim has helped mentor through The Boy Scouts of America program, as well as many other young men, having served as Scoutmaster, Committee Chairman, and Outdoor Program Advisor. In addition to enjoying all the outdoor activities the Scouts has to offer, Jim enjoys off-roading in his Jeep and home-brewing.
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