Academic journal article Forensic Science Communications

FBI Virtual Academy Issues and Update

Academic journal article Forensic Science Communications

FBI Virtual Academy Issues and Update

Article excerpt

Introduction

The FBI opened the doors to the FBI Virtual Academy (FBIVA), a computer-based learning system, in early December 2002 to an overwhelming response, both good and bad. People are excited about using the Virtual Academy and its resources, but differ in their expectations. To help alleviate the frustration some people have been experiencing, this update addresses some of the issues concerning the FBI Virtual Academy and its currently available resources.

Issues and Processes

When the FBI purchased the learning management system, now called the FBI Virtual Academy, and started its customization, many initial decisions had to be made without the benefit of feedback from potential users. Regrettably, some of these decisions have affected the user-friendliness of the Virtual Academy. Policy and other issues have arisen from the need to accommodate a diverse audience while still offering the best possible resource in the FBIVA.

Agency Application

Several issues involve the confusion agency heads experience when completing and submitting applications: What constitutes an agency? Should employees self-register or register by Training Manager?

What constitutes an agency? Agency heads must make two decisions regarding how they want their agency to appear in the FBI Virtual Academy: agency type and the Training Mangager.

Agency Type--Agency heads must decide which one, or more, of the four Virtual Academy agency (agency) types most closely defines the agency's mission or primary function:

* Law enforcement

* Forensic laboratory

* Judicial system

* Other public service (specifically emergency response services)

The Virtual Academy agency type affects the courses and other resources made available to the employees who register from that agency. Thus, agency heads must register carefully by choosing from the following options:

* Register the agency only once under the type most compatible with the agency's primary mission.

* Split the agency into several FBI Virtual Academy agencies based on functions within the agency. For example, a local police agency with a forensic laboratory division should apply twice--once as a law enforcement agency and once as a forensic laboratory agency.

* Register a geographically diverse agency by location as well as type. For example, a state police or federal agency having many locations and functions will apply under all locations and functions. This may seem time consuming, but the agency application occurs only once but benefits all employees of that agency.

* Break a large agency into smaller division- or department-sized agencies based on function and/or geographical location. For example, major city police departments may actually apply as separate agencies based on their divisions, departments, or even mission-oriented squads.

Training Manager--Each agency applying to the Virtual Academy must assign a point of contact, called the Training Manager. This person has complete control over which employees from that agency will be allowed access to the Virtual Academy and what training, if any, they will be allowed to take. Thus, the choice of a responsible Training Manager is very important for FBI Virtual Academy security as well as for agency control of employee training. The Training Manager must have an e-mail address and must be able to inform agency employees when they can register, then validate each employee who does. The Training Manager must also have the authority to assess each candidate's qualifications for enrollment in the courses offered through the Course Catalog, then approve or deny the request.

Agency heads must decide what constitutes their agency based on their understanding of both agency type and the role of the agency's Training Manager.

Should employees self-register or register by Training Manager? …

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