E LEARNING by Mr E learning Honess

A (Very) Quick Blog about E-Learning.
This week I did my University’s E-Learning package on GDPR & Data Protection. Now I appreciate that this is not the most thrilling topic in the world, however recently I had my Research Ethics Forms and my request to access a Police Force to conduct research bounced (quite rightly) because of insufficient detail of data protection issues. These forms and my access request are vital as without them I will be unable to conduct the data collection stages for my PhD, i.e. actually do the research! As a result, I was very personally motivated to conduct this training and to do it properly, despite the fact it was a one-off, standalone e-learning course (what we call in the biz programmed instruction).
I did the training and you know what…? I actually learned the material contained within!
If I had not had those data protection issues dangling over me would I have seen the relevance of it? Probably not!
Would I have undertaken the e-learning seriously? Probably not!
Would I have learned anything about a particularly dry subject? Probably not!
Knowing the relevance of the training to me personally was key for me to successfully complete a programmed instruction e-learning course…
So why is this personal anecdote the basis of a CCCU Policing blog?
Those that have read my work will know that I have a personal, professional and academic interest in police training and that I conducted research into e-learning by NCALT a couple of years ago. During that research I found that e-learning was now the major form of training delivery in the police with 98% of officers stating they had completed courses in the previous 3 years. But I also found that 82% of officers stated that it did not meet their learning needs, and that over 70% stated that necessity and usefulness were key motivation (and de-motivating) factors when undertaking such courses. Plus, this was echoed when I spoke to frontline officers about why this was the case*.
In this case I had a clear reason to undertake the course. It was vitally necessary for my role as a researcher and PhD student. I had recently suffered a setback as a direct result of not knowing enough about the topic and so the issue of GDPR and data protection (as dull as subject as it is and delivered in a way I don’t really like) was at the forefront of my mind. The requirement to undertake the training was clear to me and not based on my line manager, research supervisor or someone higher up telling me I had to do it.
This has implications for police managers, especially those tasked with training. Officers need to know why they are undertaking the training. They need to have an appreciation of its importance and necessity for their day-to-day jobs, but they have to experience why it is important rather than just be told that it is. Because all the while they see it as a tick-box exercise to cover the organisation’s liability (a whole other discussion as to why I don’t think it does) and not an essential part of what they do, the e-learning will remain ineffective.
Rich Honess
*The whole research thesis can be read here: http://create.canterbury.ac.uk/14999/

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