Interactive training

Voting handsets, similar to those used in ‘ask the audience’ on television quiz shows such as ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, are being adopted by an increasing number of forces to bring interactive decision making into the classroom. Steve Butterworth, head of immersive learning at the Greater Manchester Police Training Centre, tells Police Professional how this training method can bring tangible policing benefits.

Nov 16, 2007
By Paul Jacques
Graeme Biggar

Voting handsets, similar to those used in ‘ask the audience’ on television quiz shows such as ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, are being adopted by an increasing number of forces to bring interactive decision making into the classroom. Steve Butterworth, head of immersive learning at the Greater Manchester Police Training Centre, tells Police Professional how this training method can bring tangible policing benefits.

Your control centre gets a phone call from a young girl who’s had her mobile phone stolen. You get assigned to the job and arrive at the crime scene where she tells you what happened. What’s your next course of action?

It’s an all too familiar street robbery incident, but this time the scenario is part of an interactive training module being pioneered by a number of forces across the UK.

By creating video clips with pre-defined decisions and answers, it effectively puts officers in a crime situation by asking the question, “What are you going to do next?”

Steve Butterworth, head of immersive learning at the Greater Manchester Police Training Centre, has been using this interactive training method in his classes for around 12 months.

He wanted to bring ‘live’ decision making into the classroom but at a level less complex than the existing Minerva and Hydra immersive system in use at Greater Manchester Police – the training simulator for large-scale criminal investigations developed by Dr Jonathan Crego for the Metropolitan Police.

Immersive learning is a delivery technique designed to simulate the reality of critical incident management. Students are ‘immersed’ in a realistic environment to experience the decision making process and understand the complex issues involved in incident management.

“I was interested in interactive decision-making but without adding the complexity of the full simulation,” said Mr Butterworth. “The interactive concept from Qwizdom [specialists in interactive voting systems] allows us to do that.

“We created scenarios based around street robbery to look at the officers’ response when they go to a crime scene.

“We’ve got a young girl who’s had her mobile phone stolen. She rings through to the control centre, a car gets assigned to the job and you see a video of the car on its way to the scene.

“You get the feel for the job that’s coming up, then the video stops and it asks the question ‘what further would you expect from communications, what further information would you like?’.

“This allows us then to break out of the Qwizdom module and have a broad discussion around the issues, such as thoughts on the information received from communications.

“After that, we move on and get to the final part of the journey, where you arrive at the scene, get out of the car and the young girl gives you a very brief overview of what’s happened.

“Then we pause the screen and give some choices: ‘what do you want to do?’, ‘what are you going to ask for?’; ‘what’s your next course of action?’.

“Out of these there’d be one that we’d call a ‘good choice’ and some poorer or incorrect choices.”

Choices are made on an interactive voting handset, similar to those used in ‘ask the audience’ on television quiz shows such as ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, but far more advanced.

Mr Butterworth was approached to provide this particular training scenario to address a need in one of the divisions that was performing poorly on robbery incidents.

“This was part of an initiative to give some interactive training to the officers on the ground, to give them confidence in responding to these sorts of jobs.

“We worked with the people who were the experts on robbery in that division to build the scenario as they saw it, putting it into a storyboard that was challenging, rather than sitting in a briefing being ‘powerpointed’ to tears for an hour.

“The officers actually got a hands-on role at the robbery and saw the emotions of the people who were involved, which brought it to

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