Security efforts peaked sharply following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with government, education and business stepping up efforts to increase safety and security. Learning has been a major part of this effort, particularly for the professionals who must respond rapidly to attacks and incidents.
Most of the learning products and courses that have been introduced have been designed for these first responders. According to Andrew Howell, vice president of Homeland Security for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, little attention has been paid to security products for business. So the introduction of homeland-security-related e-learning designed specifically for business learners fits an unfilled need.
To fill that niche, Business Performance Technology (BPTech) has introduced a series of e-learning products based on homeland security topics. “While there are a lot of training materials, as one might expect, available and sponsored by organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, much of it was focused on first responders, and much of that training was classroom-based,” said Peter A. Barrett, president of BPTech. “We thought there was a need for directing and orienting training about business continuity and things related to terrorist activities and gearing it toward business.”
Howell said that because the private sector owns or operates 85 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure, it is imperative to the economic and national security of the United States that businesses be prepared for terrorist attacks.
Barrett emphasized that it is important for employees to learn about security issues, but that it is not necessary for this training to get into the same level of detail as the first responder training that has been more widely available. BPTech’s Homeland Security series is divided into four subject areas, with 26 topics. Businesses can choose to use one, two, three or all of the sets.
Subject areas include:
- Reducing the Risks From Homeland Security (available now)
- Communicating About Homeland Security (to be released this month)
- Responding to Home and Security Emergencies (to be released in April 2004)
- Preparing for Homeland Security Emergencies (to be released in May 2004)
The individual topics include interactive elements such as role playing and simulated dialogues. All topics are compliant with AICC and SCORM standards, making it simple for companies to integrate the courses with their existing learning management systems.
According to Barrett, the topics can be easily customized to fit the organization’s needs at a comparable price to off-the-shelf learning. “We can tailor this product to be customized for each individual organization,” said Barrett. “We can sell it as an off-the-shelf product, but we can also make it available so that it can be tailored to whatever a specific organization wants.”
In addition to being able to choose the topics they want, organizations can also insert their logo and company-specific information. For example, the topic that deals with communicating with local and community first responders can be customized to include the appropriate contact information. “We provide the customer with a pretty easy-to-use guide that allows them to submit their specific information back to us, and we publish the topics then for that client with that information included, and it’s done in a way that it’s, in effect, a custom course, but they’re not paying for customization,” said Barrett.
For this type of learning, Barrett said, e-learning delivery can offer numerous benefits over classroom-based learning. “If we look at it from the standpoint of trying to make employees and managers aware, it’s a way to get a consistent message out to all locations,” said Barrett. “It’s a way for small and medium businesses to get a message out where they might not ordinarily be doing too much at all. And, by comparison, it’s obviously relatively less expensive.”
With terrorism and homeland security still in the forefront of the news, it’s surprising that there’s not more training activity going on for businesses, said Barrett. “When I look at all the surveys and statistics that are coming out, they’re saying that physical and IT or cyber-security interest and concern in business training and awareness are two of the biggest issues that are on the of things to accomplish,” he said.
Emily Hollis is managing editor for Chief Learning Officer magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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