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Training 1990: a video odyssey.

Training 1990 A VIDEO ODYSSEY

QUALITY. CONSISTENCY. EFFECTIVENESS. Nearly every security executive recognizes the importance of these goals in personnel training. Often, however, these goals are diluted by the realities of corporate life. Among an avalanche of competing demands, training is typically pushed to the bottom of the heap or delegated into oblivion. Many security organizations do not have the time, budget, or resources to design, produce, and deliver training programs that continously achieve all three goals.

The consequences of inadequate or improper training can be seen daily in the media. Spectacular headlines tell the tale of enormous property losses due to theft and fraud. For each case in the news dozens of similar stories go untold. Right or wrong, the image of security professionals is tarnished, and the need for effective training becomes more critical than ever.

The question then, is how well personnel are being trained. From a positive perspective, training effectiveness can be measured by the degree of skill, productivity, and professionalism of the staff. From a negative perspective, training effectiveness can be measured by the number, type, and impact of mistakes those people make. Unfortunately, in this litigious society, others judge training effectiveness harshly and evaluate it more often by what people do wrong than what they do right.

This article will discuss the effectiveness of such training tools as manuals, workshops, and on-the-job training. It will also examine a new approach to security training, interactive videodisc training.

Most security training programs rely on one or more of the following training approaches: manuals, workshops, and on-the-job training. While these tools are essential ingredients of a comprehensive training program, they have their limitations.

Manuals. Security manuals typically fit into one of two categories: The Complete, Unabridged Guide to Security or Security at a Glance. Complete Guide manuals are typically drafted by or with the assistance of legal counsel and usually contain the full detail of all key policies and procedures. While a law student may find these manuals fascinating, and their sheer bulk is impressive, the average security employee cannot even begin to decipher them let alone use them as a guide to behavior.

At a Glance manuals, on the other hand, offer the short course. These manuals are typically written, under duress, by an overworked security manager and are updated every five years or so. These highlight key policies and procedures but frequently do not give enough information to help people do their jobs effectively and professionally.

Complete Guide or At a Glance manuals all have limitations as training tools. The effectiveness of a manual depends not only on how complete it is and how clearly it is written but also in the reading skills of its users. While a manual can cover the do's, don'ts, and how to's, it cannot effectively communicate the why's and what if's - the critical elements of understanding that build professional judgment. Further, people remember only about 10 percent of what they read. So 90 percent of the content of even the best manual is forgotten over time.

The conclusion is that a security manual should not serve as a primary training tool. A manual is best used as a reference, a single location where everyone knows to look for the specifics of policies and procedures. The skills and judgment required to carry out those policies and procedures should be taught in a more effective manner.

Workshops. When resources permit, workshops are developed to communicate policies and procedures and to teach critical skills and judgment. These workshops are typically led either by security executives or managers or by experienced, skilled security personnel.

While a workshop leader's years of experience may provide him or her with much knowledge, that experience frequently does not translate into effectiveness as an instructor. Skilled instructors require extensive training and experience in instructional design, public speaking, and group facilitation.

Doing the best they can, many security trainers spend a great deal of classroom time telling war stories. These stories may be extremely interesting but rarely carry much training value and often illustrate extraordinary circumstances and borderline or inappropriate responses. These workshops may have a high entertainment value and may receive glowing student evaluations, but they frequently produce limited training results.

Some organizations hire professional trainers. Although these persons are skilled in workshop instruction, students often question their credibility because of the trainers' lack of security experience. Regardless of the qualifications of the trainer, workshops have inherent limitations, such as the inevitable delay between hiring and training which results in downtime during which new hires either are nonproductive or picking up variable and inappropriate lessons on the job.

Once a class begins, the trainer faces a limited schedule in which to communicate a vast amount of information. Discussion and question-and-answer time is often limited in order to complete the agenda on time.

Each group of students typically presents a wide range of preconceptions, skills, and learning styles. As a result, even the best trainer has difficulty maintaining a pace that meets the learning needs of all students in the class. Moreover, the average retention over time rarely exceeds 30 percent.

The dunce factor also applies. No one wants to look stupid in front of his or her peers, so the most important questions often go unasked during workshops. The answers are instead discovered by trial and error on the job.

Rarely does an instructor present the same information the same way from workshop to workshop. It is even rarer for two different instructors to present the same information the same way. While this degree of inconsistency might be tolerable in other fields, it can be dangerous in security.

Workshops are a vital element in most security training programs. Nothing can replace live instruction and peer interaction. The instructor can serve as an impartial third party or confidant to the student. The trick, then, is to retain the benefits of workshops while compensating for workshops while compensating for the inherent delays, limited retention, and inconsistency.

On-the-job training. The theory behind on-the-job training (OJT) is that people learn best by doing (and, one hopes, learn quickly from their mistakes). Security training relies too heavily on this approach when security personnel must pick up the majority of their knowledge and skills from other people on the job.

OJT is an important element of professional training, but it should never be relied on as the only approach. Like workshops, OJT assumes a skilled and experienced staff is also skilled in trainning new hires - a dangerous and costly assumption in many industry. More often than not, OJT is piecemeal and inconsistent. The extent and quality of training varies from trainer to trainer and varies over time even with the same trainer.

The amount of exposure to significant incidents cannot be controlled by the trainer. Each trainee may see only a small range of situations, yet companies assume all trainees are adequately prepared after a predetermined period of OJT. In addition, at least a few bad habits are inevitably learned during OJT.

FORTUNATELY, A NEW TRAINING method is available. It salvages the manual as a means of documenting policies and procedures but does not rely on it for training. It increases the effectivenes of workshops by allowing them to focus on skills development, but it provides greater consistency and information retention. Finally, it ensures exposure to a wider range of situations than is possible exclusively through OJT. The approach is called interactive videodisc (IVD).

IVD combines the power of three established technologies: personal computers, videodiscs, and touch screens. None of these technologies alone offers the benefits sought. When properly combined, however, these technologies result in effective training.

Computers. Training time decreases and effectiveness increases when instructional materials are tuned to the skill and understanding level of each student. Effectiveness also increases when training is broken into digestible pieces and the student is required to master each piece before moving on. Finally, learning is enhanced when feedback is specific and tailored to each student's level of performance. Computer-based training is the only approach that can consistently provide these benefits.

Computer-based instruction can be very effective, but it too has limitations. First of all, computers are limited by their ability to show only text and graphic images on the computer screen. In this type of training, students learn by passively reading the screen, and most computer-based training programs require some degree of computer literacy or typing skills. Finally, computer-based training cannot realistically simulate on-the-job situations.

Videodiscs. Videodiscs use a technology similar to that of compact discs. In addition to audio, however, videodiscs can display still video images and live-motion video sequences. Using this technology, a training program can illustrate concepts, policies, and procedures by showing actual on-the-job situations. Rather than merely listening, students interact and participate in realistic situations. The student can select a particular response to a situation and immediately see and hear the consequences of his or her choice.

A videodisc can expose every student to a larger number and wider variety of training scenarios than the student could realistically encounter during even the best OJT program. Moreover, students can make mistakes and learn from them before they occur on the job.

IVD offers a means of evaluating students' ability to apply what they have learned. A response to a live video situation is more informative than a selection on a multiple-choice test.

In addition, unlike videotape, videodiscs do not wear out. The audio and video quality will be the same after five years of use as it is when the disc is new.

Touch screens. The third component of an IVD system is a touch-sensitive screen. With this technology, students select options and respond by touching the computer screen rather than typing on a keyboard. Touch screens eliminate the need for typing skills and thereby eliminate much of the frustration associated with computer-based training.

Combining these three technologies results in a powerful and effective training approach. An IVD approach typically reduces training time by 50 to 70 percent, improves test performance as much as 90 percent, and raises training information retention as high as 80 percent. The bottom line is lower training costs, increased training effectiveness, and better trained and more professional personnel.

IVD technology is currently being used for a wide range of training applications. IVD is being used to train students in military and law enforcement weapons use, industrial manufacturing assembly, electronic and mechanical machinery maintenance, sales, management, and many other job skills.

The first program designed specifically for the security industry in Retail Training Technology's Interactive Detective Development - Volume 1. This program trains retail loss prevention detectives to deter, detect and apprehend shoplifters and deal with fraud suspects and dishonest employees.

Despite its advantages, IVD technology lacks the important element of human interaction and the benefit of human feedback in live situations. As a result, IVD is best used as a key part of a comprehensive training strategy.

About the Author . . . Jonathan Bravin is vice president of instructional development for Retail Training Technologies Inc. in Mentor, OH, and Woodland Hills, CA. The company offers IVD and custom training development services to the security and retail industries.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:security training programs
Author:Bravin, Jonathan
Publication:Security Management
Date:Dec 1, 1989
Previous Article:Focus on the fundamentals.
Next Article:To drill a mock scenario.

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