Training doesn’t have a sterling record in the business world. Studies have found that after one hour, people forget more than 50% of a lesson.

This isn’t necessarily new information, either. In the 19th century, German Psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, published research demonstrating “The Forgetting Curve.” He found that humans forget 40% of what they learn within 20 minutes.

How to Develop Goals for Your In-Service Learning Management System

After 9 hours, we’ve forgotten about 64%.

And yet we continue to train because we continue to uncover new approaches and new skills that can be critical to influencing how we work. The act of training itself isn’t falling short as much as the tools we use to deliver and reinforce it.

Organizations use Learning Management Systems (LMS) to provide training to their employees at scale. This software is often deployed using a Software-as-a-service (SaaS), or online training, model. Which means you and your team can access the software in the field, at your desk, or at home, without losing momentum.

Know What You Want from Your LMS

efore transitioning to a new LMS, or choosing one for the first time, it’s important to articulate exactly what you hope to get from it. SMART is a helpful framework for goal-setting that’s probably familiar. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

For example, a SMART goal could be:

  • 100% of patrol officers will have completed the revised Use of Force training by May 12, 2019.
  • By 2021, new de-escalation training will reduce citizen complaints by 25%

If you find you can’t execute against your goals with your current system, work with your team to find out why. Is it due to software limitations or something else? This will help you identify which features will be most important to your team should you choose to implement a new or different LMS.

What to Ask Before You Start Goal-Setting

Once you’ve decided to pursue an LMS, create a rubric to guide your decision making. It should reflect your goals for the system, as well as any internal or external mandates your agency must comply with.

Support the certification of your officers

Certification is a critical part of an officer’s career. For better or worse, many advances in technology entail a certification process: breathalyzers, TASERS, firearms. The list goes on. This can make staying compliant feel like a full-time job, a responsibility that’s only exacerbated by outdated tools like desktop spreadsheets. An LMS can automate much of this process, thus reducing your overall department risk of under-delivering on training (and increasing your exposure to liability) while improving the training experience for your officers. Leveraging this automation lets you comfortably co-exist with the complexity of maintaining certifications across your entire department.

Reduce the burden of data management (literally…and figuratively)

binders-of-officer-training-dataBinders are no one’s friend. Especially when you’re trying to deliver crucial training in use of force or active shooters. Using an LMS lets you deliver courses to your team through a centralized digital classroom that’s easily maintained by your trainers. This enables your department to stay nimble in understanding how to respond to emerging threats while maintaining best practices in other areas.

Confidently review status updates on the progress of officer training

When a salesperson misunderstands or fails to adopt tactics from a coaching session, the worst-case scenario is some prospect enduring a bad pitch. For police officers, the consequences are high-stakes. Using an LMS provides your leadership team with a single view into training adoption and progress. This is especially useful during accreditation processes like the one offered by CALEA, or when maintaining training standards mandated by the state or POST.

Minimize your department’s exposure to risk

If an officer’s performance is ever scrutinized by a third-party external to your department, the last thing you want is gaps in training data (or people data in general). An LMS allows you to easily generate documentation that shows a holistic view of the your officer’s training history, which you can refine to only include data relevant to the case in question. This ease of reporting extends to any request for officer records like those solicited under FOIA.

Provide your officers with the tools to continuously hone and learn important skills

Perhaps most important, an LMS provides the digital infrastructure your officers need to perform at their best. It also provides you with the insight you need to shape future training goals based on performance or knowledge gaps that reveal themselves through your department’s data.

Which Features Support Your Goals?

Once you have the goals for your LMS documented, you can start to identify which features and functionally you’ll need to support them. Here are some examples of options you’ll encounter:

  • Tracking adoption and training activity
  • Reporting on compliance and officer performance
  • Integrations with other technology you use to track Use of Force, Community Engagement activities, as well as performance evaluation
  • SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) Compliance, which is a content development standard used by training providers; this is especially important if you rely on a lot of third-party content for training
  • User interface (how does it look to your learners and trainers, and how easy is it to use?)

As you think about your current training resources and how you’d like to see them evolve in the coming years, consider whether or not they can support SMART goals to the same degree an LMS can. If not, it’s likely time to consider a new solution.

You’ve heard the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” That might be true for an aspiring actor turned high school drama instructor, but when it comes to field training officers (FTOs), it’s typically an agency’s top performers who are chosen to teach your department’s recruits.

Most FTOs will tell you that field training is one of the toughest assignments in an officer’s career. The role comes with four dimensions of accountability: your agency, your trainee, your community, and yourself. This multi-level accountability is why removing friction and adding automation to your FTO’s toolkit is essential.

Human error can be an inevitable part of policing, but acknowledging its potential is different from accepting it. In fact, up until recently, departments distributed and tracked recruit training with a pen, paper, and binders containing an entire forest’s worth of material. The inefficiencies of this outdated system only added to the stress of training a recruit.

The Two (Not So Great) Use-Cases for Paper Daily Observation Reports

mountain-paper-reportsA key component to field training is the Daily Observation Report. These reports track the evolution of a new recruit to full-time officer. As your agency transitions to more digital systems, the DOR becomes an essential data-point in understanding the effectiveness of your training (e.g., identifying gaps in the curriculum), and the career trajectory of your officers.

The typical DOR consists of four elements:

  • Assessment
  • Narrative
  • Training Tasks
  • End of Day Summary

When you capture this information on paper and file it away, you are essentially discarding any potential insight.

Best case scenario, those files live out the rest of their days in a beige cabinet. Worst case scenario, your agency scrambles to find records to either support or dispute claims related to an officer’s training history.

Outside of capturing those four elements, what else should your FTO software do?

Be Digital: Either On-Premise or in the Cloud

There are two approaches to implementing a new type of software. You can either choose to host it yourself on-premise (meaning your agency probably has an IT team with its server resources) or decide to use software living in the cloud.

police-field-training-digitalIf you’re reading this post, you’re likely familiar with The Cloud, or at least have used technology hosted in it. It’s a fluffy name for data or software that’s stored and used through someone else’s servers.

Regardless of your preference, it’s essential to digitize your DORs. This allows you to leverage the many advantages of software — functions like collaboration, reporting, automation, and integrating your other technologies like CAD and RMS.

Go Beyond Field Training

Field training is only the beginning of an officer’s (hopefully) long career. FTO’s understand that every officer they instruct becomes part of their legacy. The principles they instill will inform every subsequent in-service activity that recruit performs as an LEO.

A beneficial FTO solution will extend to integrate with your in-service training platform. This allows you to understand an officer holistically, without losing signals in the noise of re-certification and other procedural necessities. It also helps you detect patterns in long-term outcomes of your FTO program. This can be useful in recognizing exceptional trainers and preventing FTO burnout.

Configure to Your Agency’s Training Requirements

Finally, FTO software should align with your department’s particular needs. Law enforcement is a fluid, ever-changing profession, with new laws, regulations, and technology emerging yearly (California, New Jersey, and other states are currently wrestling with new mandates that will fundamentally change the systems and processes that departments in these states had in place).

Trying to manage all these changes with paper-based or cobbled-together solutions could lead to compliance violations, or worse. Training is a pillar of policing, and field training is the foundation of that pillar. A single crack can spread to imperil the whole structure. police-officer-cpr-training

Your FTO software should configure to support the following:

  • Your agency’s Assessment Categories
  • Your agency’s Evaluation Scale and Rubric
  • Your agency’s training activities
  • Your compliance or standards guidelines (e.g., CALEA or POST)
  • Your agency’s certification requirements (e.g., CPR or emerging technology like TASERs)

Beyond that, it should be easy for your FTO to input their assessment, narrative, and End-of-Day summary while allowing for other FTOs to review and collaborate on these reports. This ensures that recruits experience consistent training without having to fill in the blanks on their own.

You know that your FTOs are some of the best your department has to offer. However, the complex nature of today’s policing environment, in addition to the workload strain resulting from fewer recruits, means investing in FTO software that frees your trainers to focus on turning recruits into outstanding public servants and spending less time dealing with paper.