There are thousands upon thousands of riggers within the fire service and other emergency services such as Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and all of them at one point or some point will need or have already turned to online training. Regardless of what has transpired over the last 6 months, online training has been increasing by leaps and bounds. However, that isn’t to say that “learning” has kept up with expectations and there are some reasons for this and few have anything to do with the content.
Rigging Lab Academy has been in the business of online education far longer than most… we began our sojourn into this market in 2005. That is 15 years of adventuring into the unknown and through it all, there are at least 3 areas of concentration that need to be grasped before changes within the constructs of a given department or organization can happen.
Don't try to replicate classroom instruction online
Efficacy is all about engagement and participation. No one could or should take any given “brick and mortar” experience and simply move it online and expect it to work. This just doesn’t happen. You’d make an otherwise excellent live class a subpar experience or worse. Instead, leverage technology and transform the experience into something completely new. There a ton of ways to do this and are beyond the scope of this article, but let it be said “you aren’t alone in this” and it can be done.
One of the options is to shift some of the control from the instructors to the students. Buy-in and consequences need to happen. Cuttie cutter systems will kill progress… even if that is what is expected. Don’t replicate, rather build with other learning technologies and online options. If possible, and I know this is a kick in the “you know where”, but if a tame is going to be using online training… make is all online with the exception being less than 5% of the time. If you don’t you are fighting an uphill battle… behavior must change to fit the learning narrative.
Help students own their own learning
Virtual learning is “shift required” learning and it is vital that students are self-directed with a solid game plan, outcomes, and end-games. Tools that provide daily data feedback and progress is essential. Focused discussions within the content are critical ~ giving students a chance to “move around the cabin” a bit; It is “digital learning that makes personalized learning possible”~ rich content, simulations, collaboration tools, and production options.
Facilitate connection, not isolation
Online or virtual learning can blow up in your face and those of the student when things are poorly implemented. Don’t limit the outside world, rather incorporate things. Within the framework of today’s firehouse and SAR headquarters, bringing the online learning component into the practical aspect of learning has never been easier. Technology has reached the level of allotment to where everyone can or should be on the same page at exactly the same time while reviewing the practical (hands-on) components of the lesson. Bringing in additional support pillars, real-world expertise and guidance will fill in huge gaps nicely and the payoff is huge when done right.
Specifically speaking, the fire service and SAR spheres are chock full of volunteers and while this critical bloodline is mandatory, it isn’t without some drawbacks… everyone has their own lives and hierarchy of needs, making the above information even more crucial to “the cause”.
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