5 Keys to Overcoming Employee Objections to Online Learning

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Every first responder and local government employee knows not all training is dynamic, hands-on work. Before personnel can engage in reality-based scenario training, there is a considerable time spent in instructor-led classroom sessions.

With an online learning solution, sessions can easily be taken from a classroom lecture and conducted in an online learning management system (LMS). However, while implementing an LMS has many benefits for public safety agencies, some end users resist the change. Now that your department has an LMS, how do you influence personnel to engage in the online system? Here are five proven suggestions for overcoming employee objections to online learning:

1) Identify superusers  

Select a group of superusers for online learning. Ideally,  these people have the respect of their peers and have received robust training on how the system works. Superusers believe in the value of the LMS and the benefits it can provide individual learners. They can help other individuals who have questions about anything from navigating the user interface to accessing the most compelling content in a proactive and self-guided manner.

2) Assign courses and hold personnel accountable

Pre-determine specific assignments for the quarter or year and use automated reminders that prompt end-users about deadlines and training requirements. Rather than allowing personnel to log on and complete assignments when they have time, deadlines for assigned courses increase the probability personnel will complete the task on time.

Start by assigning courses most likely to engage users with the training system and make a positive first impression. Annual mandatory courses like bloodborne pathogens or slip-and-fall prevention are better suited for when personnel are more familiar with the training system and better understand its purpose. Instead, select videos or courses on hot topics and new challenges facing your personnel.

3) Make learning content part of the daily routine

Create an “every day is a training day” culture in your agency by assigning a short video for review during daily briefings. Each day, personnel can watch a five-minute video that consists of scenario-based training or even real-world footage of a recent event.

Another way to incorporate online learning into the daily routine is to use the LMS as a means of communicating with your personnel. Command staff can distribute memos, policy updates, SOPs or directives with just a few clicks. Replacing the old-school and ineffective practice of posting paper memos to a bulletin board with online communication through the LMS allows the agency to track that messages and documents have been received. The read receipt is recorded in the employee’s file, helping agencies to prove compliance with high-liability training and communications.

Deadlines for assigned courses increase the probability personnel will complete the task on time.

4) Have trainers create custom content

With an LMS, training instructors can create courses, quizzes, custom videos, and skills assessments that track training both in the classroom and offline.

While off-the-shelf courses certainly have tremendous value, public safety and local government personnel respond even better to training content unique to their jurisdiction or agency. With a robust LMS, trainers can design curricula and incorporate video of scenarios captured at recognizable places in their community, providing a more realistic training experience.

For example, if an agency is going to present training to police officers on how to self-apply a tourniquet with the non-dominant hand, the trainer could require that a video he or she previously recorded on the topic be viewed online before the hands-on practice and competency assessment session. Recording the video at a location well-known to the officers increases the value of the segment.

When the officers arrive at training for the hands-on assessment, the video portion of the instruction has already been completed, and the learners can immediately get to work practicing that skill. In addition to saving time, this practice encourages the use of the LMS platform and enhances the end user’s experience.

5) Encourage the training staff to have patience with the process

Just like any other change in policies and procedures, there will be individuals who enthusiastically embrace the new way of doing things and those who resist change. In the workplace, this is especially true of technology. Recognize that personnel have varying skill levels and then meet employees where they are. Provide additional training and development tools that focus on this group. The more support they have, the more comfortable they will feel with learning the new system.

An online learning management system can help make any local government or public safety department’s training program more effective and efficient. Overcoming employee objections to online learning isn’t difficult, but it does require effort. Remember, bring in superusers early to gain support and maximize the use of the available features, such as the course builder tool. These strategies, along with creating an “every day is a training day” mentality, can ensure your agency sees strong utilization.

Looking for online learning for your public safety agency? Check out Lexipol’s online learning academies:

PoliceOne Academy

FireRescue1 Academy

EMS1 Academy

CorrectionsOne Academy


Lexipol Team

Lexipol provides public safety and local government with solutions that combine the impact of information with the power of technology. We serve more than 2 million first responders and local government officials with policies, training, grant assistance and news and analysis.

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