New Study: 78 Percent of Emergency Communicators Will Attend an Online Class this Year

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Results of the newly released study by PowerPhone shows that the proportion of 911 personnel taking their training online continues to grow and that perceptions are positive.

eLearning is not going away. And for 911 - it's a game changer.

PowerPhone's survey is the first to look at online learning as it pertains to emergency communications nationally. Based on responses from 1,200 dispatchers, call takers, supervisors, directors and managers, the results show an industry ready to embrace eLearning.

The Survey of Online Learning in Emergency Communications reveals that 68% of public safety personnel took at least one online course in 2012 and that number is expected to rise to 78% over the next year. And nearly all respondents (90%) felt online learning was important to their agency's long-term training plan.

"eLearning is not going away," said study co-author Chris Salafia, President and CEO of PowerPhone. "And for 911 – it's a game changer. It cuts down on travel expenses and shift coverage, increases reach and convenience, and if done right, can deliver exceptional, fully participatory training."

In fact, 80 percent of respondents agreed that a well-designed online course could be just as effective, or more so, than a classroom-based course.

"To improve the standard of care we provide, we have to enable our people to play an active role in doing so," Salafia said. "And it begins with effective learning."

Key report findings include:

  • The majority rated their prior eLearning experiences as about the same as face-to-face learning.
  • Overwhelmingly, the largest benefit emergency communicators cited for online learning was the convenience of anywhere, anytime training, followed by easier scheduling.
  • 38% of personnel were asked to answer 911 calls and take online training at the same time, possibly because only 19% would be compensated for taking a course from home.
  • Participants thought that up-to-date audio and video were the most important elements of a well-designed online course.
  • 62% of emergency communicators saw a significant improvement in knowledge following their online training.
  • There is a minority concerned that hands-on learning may be difficult to simulate online.

"A well-designed online course can and should integrate peer networking and instructor accessibility into the curriculum," said study co-author Dr. Gary Moore, PowerPhone's Director of Learning. "We need to be in the Web 2.0 landscape and encourage the active participation and engagement of our students for their learning to be of value."

With this model in mind, PowerPhone now offers all of its certification courses online, which follow a blended learning method to combine the benefits of online theory and real-time practicum training. The company, which has already trained more than 195,000 public safety personnel worldwide, also offers all recertification courses in an eLearning environment, and will soon be making all of its courseware available in an online equivalent.

The complete survey report is available at

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Caitlin Kingsley
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