Correctional Services Canada is using a content management system as part of its ambitious plans to deliver training to prospective correctional service officers through the Web and to deploy e-learning in assorted other areas of the

federal ministry that runs the country’s prison system.

Correctional Services’ first use of Gatineau, Que.-based Eedo Knowledgeware Corp.‘s ForceTen will be in a project to make the first five weeks of the existing 13-week training program for new correctional officers available online, said Jennifer Lockyer, IM/IT senior business integrator in the ministry’s Information Management Services unit.

Rather than leaving their previous jobs and spending 13 weeks away from home at one of the department’s training facilities, prospective correctional services officers will be able to complete the first five weeks of training and their entrance examinations online on their own time. Those who pass the exams will then be called in for further training as jobs become available, Lockyer said.

The project means converting about 2,000 pages of instructional material to between 50 and 100 hours of computer-based training by next April, she said, describing the scale of the undertaking as “somewhat frightening.” 

Correctional Services also plans to use ForceTen for other training, such as teaching outside consultants – for instance doctors, psychologists and teachers – what they need to know before working with inmates in Canada’s prisons.

The department has previously obtained computer-based training materials from various external sources, which resulted in some inconsistencies. “We wanted to bring that power in-house,” Lockyer said. “We went out for an RFP to get a product that was going to put the power back into our users’ hands for upgrading computer-based content, possibly even creating that content themselves, so we wanted a user-friendly tool.”

Federal policy also required that the learning system have a bilingual interface, and Eedo Knowledgeware was among the few suppliers able to meet that requirement, said Lockyer, adding that price and support were also factors in the choice of ForceTen.

Leigh-Ann Empey, Eedo’s vice-president of marketing, said ForceTen provides a repository of content for building courseware, and allows that content to be delivered through various media, including Web browsers, CD-ROMs and printed materials. It also includes content creation and translation tools, she said.

Empey said Eedo sells the software in a number of vertical markets, including technology, manufacturing, transportation, finance, health care and pharmaceuticals. Eedo began a “very concentrated effort” to increase its sales to government clients about a year ago, she said.

That effort received a further boost recently when the United States Office of Personnel Management approved Eedo as a GoLearn vendor. GoLearn is a portal providing access to e-learning products and services.

The government market presents sizeable opportunities for e-learning vendors, said Greg Ambrose, program manager of e-learning and skills development at research firm International Data Corp. (Canada) Ltd. in Toronto. “There is a lot of investment that is expected and is occurring around training both workers and users of government services,” Ambrose said. “It’s becoming more of a mandate for various government sectors or groups to explore e-learning.”

IDC expects total sales of corporate e-learning infrastructure, services and content – including the government sector – to total about $400 million this year, rising to around $700 million in 2009, Ambrose said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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