Investigation of the Effectiveness of Internet-based Awareness Training for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Threats, 07-9340

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Principal Investigators
Kevin K. Fiedler
Anthony N. Bowie
Sherri T. Miller
Adam L. Hamilton (Signature Science)
Sara Szmania (Signature Science)
Ed K. Tovar (Signature Science)

Inclusive Dates: 08/01/02 - Current

Background - Recent events have intensified the need for increased awareness regarding many areas related to homeland defense. Signature Science, along with SwRI's Training, Simulation and Performance Improvement (TSPI) Division, has identified a strong need for the dissemination of affordable awareness training concerning chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats to organizations at state and local levels, as well as geographically dispersed Federal agents.

Approach - The TSPI Division made CBRN Awareness Training accessible to organizations across the United States from anywhere, and at any time. Working in conjunction with Signature Science, content was converted from an existing CBRN seminar to self-paced, asynchronous, web-based courseware. Signature Science has provided this seminar and similar training to numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement organizations to provide thousands of individuals knowledge and confidence to respond to a CBRN event.

Development of the web-based courseware is only a part of the proposed project. The TSPI Division has traditionally developed custom training content and systems. Providing access to specific training content for a fee represents a new business area for the TSPI Division. This project lays the groundwork for the development of an ongoing revenue source to be shared between the TSPI Division and Signature Science. As part of the effort, we configured and extended the network to enable the hosting of courses at SwRI to be billed on a per-use basis through a SwRI-owned commercial Learning Management System (LMS).

While CBRN Awareness Training is a logical and timely entry point into this business area, additional courses covering a variety of topics can be provided in the future with relative ease. The development and marketing of additional web-based courseware is an excellent opportunity for the TSPI Division and Signature Science to leverage each other's skills, experience, and existing customer relationships for mutual benefit.

Accomplishments - The course was completed and deployed on the Division LMS server. To determine the effectiveness of the web-based course and validate course content, the team assembled two groups of students. The first group attended an in-resident seminar taught by Signature Science personnel and the second group took the web-based course. Both groups were administered the same end of course examination and results were compared. The students taking the web-based course scored an average of 12 percent higher on the end of course examination and finished the course in an average of 37 percent less time than seminar students.

Our student test group was composed of key SwRI personnel and members of the American Society for Industrial Security. Validation of the course by security professionals adds creditability to the content and provides a valuable tool with which to promote the course to other potential customers. Additionally, course completion earns students Continuing Education Credits through the International Association for Continuing Education and Training.

Our current marketing efforts are focused on federal law enforcement, local police and sheriff departments, firefighters, public transportation workers, delivery drivers, utility workers, private security guards, and others that are likely to be the first to notice the effects of a CBRN incident. While serving these markets, we expect to encounter opportunities to develop other more specialized versions of the course to server more specific training needs. Using the existing course as a starting point, low cost derivatives can be developed that meet the needs of any organization.

The course currently is available to the public for a sliding scale fee. Our goal is to raise awareness and increase the knowledge of all citizens to the threat of CBRN incidents and weapons.

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