- Report Published -
|Evaluation of the Feasibility and Costs of Distance Learning Techniques for Law-Enforcement Training|
|Department of Criminal Justice Services|
|SJR 410 (Regular Session, 1999)|
|Distance learning is a concept to be considered for any kind of training to provide uniformity, consistency, cost effectiveness, and convenience. The legislative directive of this study was to review the potential use of distance learning in entry-level law enforcement training. Distance learning can be defined as instructional delivery that does not constrain the student to be physically present in the same location as the instructor. Historically, distance learning meant correspondence study. Today, more common delivery modes include audio, video, and computer technologies.|
Defining elements of Distance Learning include the:
• separation of teacher and learner during at least a majority of each instructional process;
• use of educational media to unite teacher and learner and to carry course content;
• provision of two-way communication between teacher, tutor, or educational agency and learner.
Based on the legislative directives for this study, the following objectives were developed.
• Determine which curricula topics are best suited for distance learning
• Determine the types of distance learning techniques currently being used by academies in Virginia
• Determine the types of distance learning techniques currently available in Virginia
• Determine the types of distance learning techniques currently available for law enforcement entry-level training
• Determine the types of distance learning techniques feasible for law enforcement entry-level training
• Determine approximate start-up and maintenance costs to implement distance learning techniques for law enforcement entry-level training in Virginia
• Determine whether or not identified distance learning techniques would be likely to improve the quality and consistency of law enforcement entry-level training
In considering the potential uses of distance learning, the performance outcomes of the current entry-level law enforcement training which could be used as part of this training were identified. With law enforcement training, it is critical to consider the ramifications of improper actions of a law enforcement officer when a task is performed improperly. Historically, such training has become more performance based where the officer is required to physically perform the task under the supervision of a certified instructor. The instructor then evaluates the officer's ability to perform the task in a legally defensible manner and evaluate the skill level of the officer.
It is further apparent that distance learning is a rapidly developing technology which makes providing a definitive recommendation for a specific format extremely difficult. It may be assumed that as the technology becomes more refined, options to be considered will change and costs associated with distance learning will change. As is indicated within the body of the study, there are many options available for consideration. It is difficult to determine any kind of fixed costs for these options as they are dependent upon the format for delivery, the number of programs considered and the degree of customization to make a program Virginia specific.
There are advantages and disadvantages, to using distance learning techniques. Studies have shown that some of the advantages are:
-Student attitudes toward distance learning are usually positive
-Students learn more quickly and retain more
-Students express themselves better when responding electronically
-Distance learning lends itself to different [not all] areas of training
-Distance learning saves travel and housing costs
-Distance learning enhances access to training information
-Saves administrative cost of running an academy
Some of the disadvantages are:
-Distance Learning reduces interpersonal contact between students and eliminates face-to-face student-instructor interaction
-It requires up-front purchase and maintenance of Distance Learning equipment to conduct training [telephone, one-way video and/or two-way audio, two-way computer hookups, or response terminals]
-Instructors must master course design and presentation techniques using educational multimedia
-Distance learning is costly to implement and maintain
-Not all agencies have identical technical capability
-More planning required to ensure user acceptance and sustained use
-The content is difficult to change
The Department of Criminal Justice Services should develop the capability to deliver appropriate portions of law enforcement entry-level training through distance learning techniques in order to ensure quality and consistency of delivery of instruction as recommended by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC).
1st year = $178,736.00
2nd and subsequent years = $165,180.00
The Committee on Training should develop guidelines for the development and delivery of certain portions of law enforcement entry-level training through distance learning techniques. Such guidelines should allow academies to develop distance learning programs at their own expense and require approval by the Committee on Training in order to ensure a minimum level of quality and consistency. It must be noted that the selection of this recommendation does not address the need for uniformity and consistency as identified in the original JLARC report.
None to the Department of Criminal Justice Services or to the Commonwealth. Any costs would be incurred by the certified academy developing the program for board approval.