The Indiana Courts Education Network will reach audiences statewide
By Scarlett T. Brooks | Instructional Design Specialist, Indiana Office of Court Services
In the fall of 2016, Indiana Office of Court Services (IOCS) team members from Education, Justice Services, and Programs and Projects, along with representatives from Appellate Court Technology, held a series of meetings to discuss the interest in distance education and a learning management system (LMS). The result of those conversations is the Indiana Courts Education Network (“the Network”), a learning management platform that has been in active development since September 2017.
Key milestones for the project have been cleared – including finalizing an agreement with a vendor, SumTotal Systems, LLC; contracting with an instructional design specialist; beta testing content; and creating student accounts in the LMS. Vicki Davis, IOCS Deputy Director, hopes that the Network will provide relevant training on demand and at the convenience of the learner, as well as efficiently deliver education to judicial branch personnel including judges, probation officers, clerks, and others.
What is a Learning Management System?
An online repository for storing courses, delivering content, and tracking learners’ completion, a learning management system saves time and cost when used to supplement in-person training.
Julie C.S. McDonald, IOCS Deputy Director, cites several factors, including the 2008 recession, that have contributed to the challenge of educating the judicial branch at a reasonable cost. The National Center for State Courts emphasize the benefits of LMS-facilitated blended learning.
Advantages of the Indiana Courts Education Network
IOCS Staff Attorney Diane Mains, who trains a large audience of probation officers, problem-solving court staff, and court alcohol and drug program employees, cites several advantages to distance learning: (1) each student can learn and train at their own pace, (2) the same message is sent to everyone (as opposed to in-person training where every class can be different), and (3) it allows staff to focus on other training needs or engage in exercises or application work with students during the in-person portion of the training.
IOCS Program Coordinator Angie Hensley-Langrel adds that moving some skill-based training online will shift the focus of in-person training to developing staff skills in working with clients.
A Measured Approach
Despite these trends and predictions, the Office of Judicial Administration (OJA) is taking a measured approach to rolling out this new initiative. Jill Acklin, IOCS Education Attorney, emphasizes that the Network will never replace in-person courses. It will only enhance them by offering: pre-requisite courses; education on more topics due to time constraints with our in-person offerings; and, the ability to replay the courses on demand.
Since late winter, the Network successfully delivered, in beta-testing stage, content on election conduct, court security, ethics, and juvenile justice-related issues. Matthew Hagenbush, IOCS Staff Attorney, adds that the Network is a training resource that is active any hour of the day.
It has also allowed Justice Services to deliver the Court Substance Abuse Management Specialist (CSAMS) test electronically, streamlining the process for both learners and proctors. In addition to increasing efficiency, the Network also provides convenient data analysis that can highlight areas where additional training is needed.
The Probation Officers Exam and Indiana Risk Assessment System (IRAS) test are also slated to go online soon.
A Team Effort
Appellate Court Technology, IOCS Justice Services, and IOCS Education staff members have also added their expertise in launching the Network. From Appellate Court Technology, Deputy Director of Applications Katie Wilson, and Systems Analyst Ryan Oliver note that the pressure of getting it right the first time allowed the team members to dig deep into how the LMS will be used and who will use it, resulting in a reduction in administrative overhead, increased data accuracy, and more insightful training.
For additional information on “The Network,” please contact Jill Acklin, IOCS Education Attorney, at (317) 232-1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.