ATD Staff appearing in TD Magazine
Thousands of paper training materials were converted to digital formats to help correctional officers learn in the best way possible.
The following story was told by Chris Grewe, founder and CEO of American Prison Data Systems, and Mark Gross, President of Data Conversion Laboratory.
American Prison Data Systems (APDS)
For a long time, the corrections industry has been decidedly low-tech. Training materials for correctional officers are often available only as print documents; as it turns out, many of the huge technological leaps made by the talent development field during the past few years have passed the corrections industry by. For instance, New York City Department of Corrections Officer Academy trainees would have to carry around large binders, which were unwieldy and, of course, difficult to update. APDS, whose mission is to improve correctional facilities, felt it was time to digitize its training materials.
APDS partnered with the Data Conversion Laboratory to make the change, which until that point was almost unheard of in the industry. The two organizations began working to digitize training materials for the NYC DOC Officer Academy, beginning with a deep dive into the old-school content APDS had previously provided. The digitization wouldn't only get rid of those cumbersome binders, which would hold thousands of pages for each trainee; it also would make the training content more secure and easier to distribute.
In 2015, after the two organizations analyzed the old training materials, they worked on a plan to convert the content into APDS's proprietary learning management system. An iterative process determined that the best course of action was XML conversion and SCORM technology. Paper documents were scanned and converted into Word documents, proofread and prepared to be turned into slides, and then made into PDFs and SCORM packages, which could be delivered to the NYC DOC training academy on APDS's secure training tablets via the learning management system.
Training content is now delivered to trainees when they need it, through a secure portal. So far, APDS has deployed more than 600 officer training tablets, digitized more than 2,000 pages of training materials, and is on track to deliver digital training services to nearly 2,000 NYC DOC recruits this year. APDS is able to see how trainees use the content, analyze that information, and provide updates whenever necessary.
Because all the training is now part of a learning management system, APDS can add interactive elements such as audio and video, plus practice tests that give trainees immediate feedback. In the future, APDS will be able to add content from new clients into the learning management system, meaning that all trainees can be given useful, customized training materials.
By modernizing training materials, the corrections industry can make its officer training more secure, more manageable, and more effective at developing the exemplary officers needed in correctional institutions across the country.