We have developed complete personal and professional development programs for gang enforcement officers, law enforcement, corrections, probation, juvenile justice and private security professionals where we focus as much on leadership and personal development as we do gangology and gang enforcement strategies. Whether it's a module on gang migration, ideology or recruitment or human motivation, human drivers and financial principles; we are able to raise the level of development to a wider range of officers in a shorter amount of time with a specific level of discipline and responsibility and we are able to do that through the use of the Blended Learning model.
So what is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is an education process in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.
Over my last 20+ years in criminal justice most of which has been in the gang enforcement and correctional intelligence area, it has been both a passion and mission of mine to participate and provide as much threat related training as possible to those who need it most.
During my tenure as both President of the Florida Gang Investigators Association and the National Alliance of Gang Investigators Associations, it was one of my core objectives to increase the amount of training beyond the traditional annual conference so to maximize the training opportunities to a larger number of officers throughout the year instead of to a select few just once a year.
This was an effective model prior to the economic collapse of 2008 when agencies were forced to cut budgets, trim staffing, and reallocate resources to stop the bleeding from a lack of tax dollars coming into the local and state budgets. If you have been in public safety longer than 24 hours you will know that the first line item to get cut is training. This is unfortunate and to be honest, dangerous to officer and public safety.
It's the chicken or the egg analogy - we need the most well trained police force in the world to more effectively deal with some of the most violent criminals in the world but it takes two of the most expensive commodities; time and money.
It's in hard times when new solutions to bridge the gaps are developed. Enter, online learning or when it first came out you may have called it CBT or Computer Based Training. Technology back then only allowed for a power-point to be turned into an automated video or presentation.
Today, we can now reach thousands of officers a day where we used to be lucky to reach hundreds a year. Technology has evolved 100 fold and we can deliver rich real-world content literally to the fingertips of officers through a variety of platforms; desktop, laptop, tablet and even smartphone for real time 24/7/365 access without the officer ever having to leave the jurisdiction. This provides a less stressful travel/work/life/home schedule for the officer and his/her family and a much more cost effective delivery method to the agency without losing that officer for an extended period of time having to fill their position with overtime.
Today, we can take that even further through blended learning. This allows us to utilize technology to deliver the training to the officer in a variety of ways based on the specific need of the officer and the most effective delivery for that area of training. Below are some of the core benefits of blended learning.
It offers the best of both worlds.
Having a mixture of both offline and online training activities gets you the best of both strategies. Blended learning for criminal justice and private security training allows officers/professionals to learn at their own pace and have the support they need if and when required. Choosing the right blended learning model will help break the monotony of traditional training, reinforce officers on their online training, and increase the engagement and motivation levels of their overall training experience. Live interactions following online self-study, or vice versa, optimize the unique benefits of each; the productive partnership of real and digital world allows officers to plan their learning and develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Furthermore, incorporating multiple learning channels and multimedia into a blended learning environment for a training method will allow officers to access large amounts of information via a variety of ways, such as videos, podcasts, and more, and thus successfully fulfill their different learning needs.
It enhances training effectiveness.
It is well known that knowledge retention can be significantly improved with the addition of a new element in the learning process, even if it is something as simple as a drag and drop interaction. Blended learning for criminal justice and security training, by offering a variety of different approaches, can certainly make a big difference in this field. Blending live interaction and online training delivers a much richer training experience and helps officers retain the eLearning content much easier than they would if they were just offered a traditional approach. Blended learning for training can have a profound impact on an officer's professional results, as it trains the workforce more effectively by optimizing their ability to obtain the eLearning objectives, thus being able to develop their skill sets and boost their work performance.
It simplifies training logistics.
Both online and traditional training have their advantages and disadvantages, and complicated logistics are a big disadvantage of the latter, as organizing a number of seminars and workshops or even scheduling to attend one can be a real headache. However, it is not always possible for agencies to fully replace their traditional training programs with online ones, as they still need some of the benefits that traditional training has to offer, such as social interaction among employees. This is where blended learning for training comes in: by using a blended approach we can reduce the number of live seminars and organize the rest via online courses without worrying about travel, per diem, lodging and officer coverage. This way, we can easily distribute critical training material through our Learning Management System and, of course, contribute to the follow up of both your online and live seminars by offering additional information for further online discussion, or conducting surveys and polls to evaluate the effectiveness of the training. Last but not least, a blended approach is not only more convenient, but also much more eco-friendly; just imagine saving printing material for so many officers.
It is cost effective.
Speaking of facilitating training logistics, note that you can reduce your training costs through blended learning. Simply put, fewer trainers for less time, means less expenses for travel, transportation, accommodation, and meals. Of course, neither online training is free of charge; it requires multiple resources and high skill professionals to design and develop high quality online training deliverables. However, we can keep its cost at low levels by taking advantage of the educational technologies that are available today. All in all, blending different delivering modes in your training can significantly increase your training’s ROI (return on investment), as reducing traditional training costs can be effectively combined with improved staff performance.
It allows officers to have control over their training.
Blended learning for a criminal justice and private security environment allows officers to participate in "their" training program using mobile devices or their laptops anytime, anywhere, and it offers them control in a way that traditional training cannot. By providing officers with supplementary online material, such as additional links or further online resources, we can give them the opportunity to use the additional information when needed and at their own pace. When officers are given power over their learning, by being able to combine their live interactions with our instructors with online self study, they feel that their unique learning needs and behaviors are met; this way, their training becomes much more effective. Additionally, many officers, as they should, believe that advancing their education is an investment in themselves. Online learning is a way for an officer to be able to do that without financially crippling his/her budget.
It enhances an officer's soft skills.
Today, whether we like it or not or want to admit it or not; criminal justice agencies and private security companies are just as much of the global footprint as anyone else. Crime and Security Threats are now Global and these threats may be coming from and/pr directed from someone who lives halfway around the world and has never stepped foot in your jurisdiction. Officers today may need to rely on telephone conferences, video calls, social media and secured online meetings with colleagues who live in different parts of the world therefore more and more different aspects of communication needs to be developed. The importance of officers being able to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively with the public, their colleagues, victims, and witnesses goes without saying. However, traditional training cannot really cover the development of all communication skills that officers today need. Blended learning for criminal justice and private security training allows us to help officers develop their virtual communication skills, through a social learning approach, by which officers can connect, interact, and share ideas with each other in a virtual environment, so they can effectively learn how to function and communicate both in the real and the virtual world. Blended learning itself as a method is developing a better prepared officer for tomorrow.
It facilities training feedback
Finally, a blended approach saves valuable time from collecting training feedback in a physical environment. Blended learning for criminal justice and private security training allows us to gather valuable data about an officer's performance and educational improvement via online quizzes, tests, and even polls whereas our Learning Management System can itself generate feedback in the form of automatic reports. Moreover, a blended learning approach can help measure the effectiveness of the overall training program, as feedback from officers cannot only be used as an indication of their performance levels, but also as a training strategy evaluation tool. Finally, officers benefit as well, since they are able to review their progress, weaknesses, and strengths - in real time.
When I founded The Gang Enforcement Company , the same mission I had 10 years ago was just the beginning of what we are set out to do today for our officers on the front line.
Training today's officers for tomorrow and tomorrow's officers; today.