At the start of the pandemic, Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) nationwide paused in-person training and quickly pivoted to Zoom and Teams to keep operations going. The virtual environment proved to be efficient and effective, igniting a spark to explore additional opportunities for advanced technology and improved eLearning. Through a philanthropic grant, funding was provided to pilot an online learning management system (LMS).

Along with the Western Territory, the Central Territory was entrusted with identifying the best platform and creating a user-friendly site, populating it with training materials, videos and other resources to equip EDS employees and volunteers to serve in various circumstances.

“In today’s world everything is online,” said Karen Hanton, Central territorial disaster training coordinator. “Offering online modules to supplement current training requirements makes it more accessible to our volunteers. It’s also appealing to the younger generation, so they’re more likely to take interest in EDS certification.”

The system is designed for volunteers new and established to expand their knowledge from their computer, tablet or phone without needing to wait for a course to be offered in-person or travel to attend. Registered users have access to the entire content library and are free to engage with the modules which cover a wide range of topics and include both written and video instruction as well as an end assessment to gage learning. Also available is a debriefing module to help volunteers process the effects of serving in difficult situations.

“The system helps us get new information out more quickly,” said Karen. “Our hope is that
going forward we’ll be able to contact volunteers prior to an assignment and let them know which modules to take in order to prepare before they are deployed.”

In-person and live courses taught via Zoom are still available as well. Some of the more complex certifications, such as for emotional and spiritual care, are completed using a hybrid model in which modules are taken online and a practicum completed in person.

The schedule, including dates, times and locations, is posted on the site where new information, resources and videos continue to be added.

For more information on how to take part in eLearning opportunities for EDS, contact your divisional EDS director.

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