When the idea first occurred, AFI investigated the possibility of using a third-party training tool, but “we were disappointed,” says Martin. “They all came back the same — they were Flash-media based, narrated PowerPoint (presentations) with some animation. When you look at studies of how people learn, there are certain aspects to learning and retention of information that are very, very important: paralinguistics, pitch, tone, body language . . .”
As such, it was important that AFI replicate the in-classroom experience as closely as possible online. The end result, created by in-house programmers, is called the IMAC Online Training Academy. It utilizes a video format, allowing students to see the trainer’s face up close and an adjacent window of point-form notes.
It is important, says Martin, that the training be a useful exercise — something that imparts actual learning rather than just another certificate used to pad a security resumé. “We want them to be able to learn something, retain a high percentage of that information and then deploy that knowledge in the field.”
The courses, which run 60 or 90 minutes, are followed by a test, and a pass grade upon successful completion. Failed tests can run the session again, and participants are faced with a different set of questions to prevent people from just memorizing one set of answers.
Some of the courses were previously offered as classroom sessions, and others were created specifically for the portal, often by tapping outside resources.