Originally a two day face-to-face Police Practice Course delivered to offender management officers, myself and my colleague Geoff took on the initially daunting task of redeveloping this to a one-day online course. We started exploring innovative ways to continue delivery of training, whilst taking account of the current restrictions in place and ensuring the quality of the training remained high.
The redeveloped Police Risk Awareness Training introduces participants to the knowledge required to undertake the risk assessment process and prepare a risk management plan. It’s been specifically tailored to meet the needs of officers who have responsibility for assessing and managing those who pose a risk of serious harm. The course broadly covers the steps within the risk assessment process; identification, analysis, evaluation & communication and the principles of risk management planning outlined within the Framework for Risk Assessment, Management and Evaluation (FRAME).
“When starting this online journey we had considerable discussion, debate and head scratching before we agreed on the most appropriate online platform for delivery.”
When starting this online journey we had considerable discussion, debate and head scratching before we agreed on the most appropriate online platform for delivery. We finally landed on Microsoft Teams, and then the real challenge began… to wrap our heads around the functionality of the platform. One problem I came across was that the organiser appeared to be the only one able to manage a lot of the functionality (e.g. breakout rooms, uploading slides and presenting), more work for me then! Positively, we sharpened up our problem solving skills and found that once the presentation was uploaded, it allowed each presenter to take control of the slides, plus the network quality didn’t impact on presenting – double win!
We then dipped our toe in updating the materials for virtual delivery and away we went with the really fun part – trying it out internally on some willing colleagues! This was invaluable and allowed us to make tweaks in content and gain a greater understanding of the platform functionality. For example, we realised when participants disappeared down their virtual breakout room rabbit holes, so did their ability to view the presentation which included instructions and examples for the exercises… Although I had every faith in their memory abilities, we amended the participant workbooks to include this information so they could refer to as and when required – problem solved! A real challenge with online delivery is what we’ll all be familiar with now – ‘zoom fatigue’. To keep everyone comfortable and engaged, we incorporated use of the various tools such as video content, chat function, breakout rooms and regular breaks.
“A real challenge with online delivery is what we’ll all be familiar with now – ‘zoom fatigue’.”
As a somewhat novice trainer looking to increase my experience of delivery (and not being someone who enjoys standing up in front of people), delivery felt less intimidating in this virtual environment. It also gave me the added bonus of easily being able to refer to my notes if I was struggling or had lost my place. For trainers and participants alike, enjoying the comforts of your own home and removal of travel time – which for some can be extensive and exhausting after a long day of training – are appealing. I found the use of the chat function to collect responses meant as a trainer I was able to “at a glance” gauge participants understanding of the material and head any confusion off at the pass. I’d also imagine that for some participants they might feel more comfortable using the chat function than speaking up in person – a great benefit.
“I found the use of the chat function to collect responses meant as a trainer I was able to “at a glance” gauge participants understanding of the material and head any confusion off at the pass.”
Something odd did happen during the training… there was silence! For anyone who knows me awkward silences are never a problem, because truth be told there is rarely an opportunity for silence when I’m around! But, in the virtual world, that silence can feel deafening! When you ask the question and wait for the responses to come through, that silent time can seem like an eternity but in reality has probably only been a couple of seconds. I found that if participants accidentally pressed their keyboard, even a letter, to the trainers it looked as if they were typing an answer that would never come! Once we learned this we didn’t wait for too long for answers.
Following the internal test we ran the first (pilot type) course with officers which I believe went well, all things considered! The volume of content covered in the redeveloped course is extensive, but the attendees were a fab bunch and our co-facilitator Brian (Police Trainer) was great. I’m really pleased to share some fab feedback from Brian:
“I believe the delivery of the course in a condensed one-day format via MS Teams worked really well. Whilst there was a lot of information/theory to impart to students, it never felt rushed or that content was diluted.”
I certainly enjoyed delivery of online training as did one participant who stated: “Online format works very well and, for me, helps me focus on the content and facilitators.” This may not be the case for everyone, but, for those who are still unsure, I would say give it a go and try to face this online training world with bravery and perhaps a dash of patience!
Risk Practice Officer