New & Notable
Eric Meyer, an internationally recognized expert on HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), arrived at the Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU) fully prepared with analysis of ITU-created website and course code -- not the typical consultant's stock presentation. Meyer, principal of Complex Spiral Consulting, conducted a full day, in-house ITU workshop on January 19.
ITU embraced the opportunity to have an expert set of eyes and opinions. Meyer engaged the group with a pedagogic blend of theory, history, and practice, as well as insights on the challenges faced by other companies and universities. The techniques and tricks learned will standardize "under-the-hood" work done by the unit.
Eric Meyer is the author of "Eric Meyer on CSS" (New Riders), "Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide" (O'Reilly & Associates), "CSS2.0 Programmer's Reference" (Osborne/McGraw-Hill), and the fairly well-known CSS Browser Compatibility Charts. He maintains a comprehensive website at http://www.meyerweb.com/.
The Meyer family lives in Cleveland, Ohio, which, he says, "is a much nicer city than you've been led to believe."
Staff of PDP’s Computer Training Services (CTS) recently began a training initiative for a New York State proprietary computer system, the Adult Services Automation Project (ASAP). ASAP was designed to provide a statewide computer application for Protective Services for Adults (PSA) programs, which investigate and provide services to remedy the abuse, exploitation, and/or neglect of elderly or impaired adults who are unable to protect themselves. Until ASAP was developed, there was no standard, automated system for case intake, inquiry, management or service provision that was available to all 58 upstate local Department of Social Services (LDSS). All PSA data was tracked through a series of paper forms, making it difficult to share information, coordinate services, or maintain current, comprehensive records.
To begin the training initiative for the project, CTS curriculum staff worked closely with PSA staff, shadowing a caseworker to observe the typical PSA workflow and task completion. This work analysis portion of development allowed curriculum staff to view how PSA activities were completed prior to ASAP implementation, enabling CTS to evaluate how ASAP would reflect and facilitate those activities. Using the compiled analysis information as a starting point, CTS then designed, developed and produced curriculum for a scenario-based ASAP course, based on valid PSA data that was masked for training purposes. CTS curriculum staff subsequently assisted state ASAP development staff in creating a training database containing the masked PSA data to support the real-life scenarios incorporated into the ASAP curriculum.
The last phase of CTS involvement comprised the actual training efforts. To prepare for training deployment, CTS curriculum staff worked extensively with CTS training staff to familiarize them with the ASAP system and the PSA environment. Training staff then provided internal pilots for ASAP development staff, to obtain final feedback and hone their system knowledge prior to provision of training to end users. As training staff was preparing for delivery, additional CTS staff scheduled ASAP classes and registered trainees from all 58 LDSS across the state, coordinating the logistics of providing classes onsite in LDSS locations.
Approximately halfway through a training initiative for 600 PSA staff that began in January and is anticipated to end in March, CTS trainers are on the road, using laptops to create portable ASAP training facilities in LDSS locations and obtaining excellent reviews from state and LDSS staff.
PDP’s Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU) and the New York State Division of Child Support Enforcement (NYS DCSE) have created an interactive, web-based course on the state’s child support program. The online course was officially launched on January 12, 2005 when the division added a link to the course on its Internet website at newyorkchildsupport.com. The title of the program – “Partners for Children” – reflects the division’s goal “to establish partnerships with people and organizations that can make a difference in children’s lives.”
The course is designed for three audiences – custodial and non-custodial parents and service providers – to provide a basic understanding of New York State’s Child Support Enforcement program and to answer specific questions about child support. Service providers who may benefit from the course include: NYS Office of Temporary Assistance and Disability (OTDA) staff; probation officers; local district case workers; children and family services staff; and faith-based and community outreach personnel.
Those taking the course are introduced to Suzanne, a caseworker, who leads them through the virtual tour of the main functions of the child support program. Along the way, participants learn about NYS child support laws and services through interactive scenarios and exercises. By exploring the program in this user-friendly manner, service providers and parents will gain a better understanding of available child support services which could affect their lives and the lives of their children.The course is free and available to the public and accessible to disabled individuals.
Computer Training Services (CTS) continues to train end users on supporting the Human Services Enterprise Network (HSEN), traditionally referred to as Key User training. 2005 training follows the December 2004 rollout of computer equipment statewide at youth facilities run by the Division of Rehabilitative Services, and offices of the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped.
A portable computer lab, appropriately configured, provides a mock-up of the HSEN domain. The lab is brought to a regional site and used to teach two Key User classes: one focusing on tasks to support HSEN workstations; the other centering on tasks to configure, administer and maintain HSEN servers. Trainees are given hands-on experience with specific tasks they will perform.
In 2005 to date, over 100 Key Users have been trained and classes have been offered in New York City, Rensselaer, Liverpool, the Highland Residential Center, and the Adirondack Residential Center. Future training sites are expected to include Tryon Residential Center, Suffolk County Aftercare, MacCormick Residential Center, Broome County Department of Social Services, Rochester Aftercare, and a site in the Erie/Cattaraugus counties area.
Key User training was implemented several years ago when the state Human Services Network (HSN) was Windows NT-based. Individuals at state agencies and local Departments of Social Services (LDSS) possessing more advanced computer skills were identified as Key Users. Key Users were selected to assist LAN administrators with daily technology tasks, and were given appropriate network administration rights to enable that assistance. To prepare Key Users for these duties, HSN-specific training needed to be developed.
CTS staff met with Office for Technology, Office of Children and Family Services, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and Department of Labor to identify tasks Key Users would be trained to perform. CTS’ curriculum staff then developed an array of training materials, including curricula, self-study materials, and computer-based training, for classes designed to instruct a Key User to configure and troubleshoot workstations, and to perform routine maintenance and administration on servers.
When the HSEN was about to be implemented, CTS retooled the Key User curriculum to reflect HSEN’s Windows 2000 platform. Again, CTS worked closely with the state and LDSS to identify tasks appropriate for Key Users to perform, and curriculum staff developed new training manuals to reflect changes in tasks, and the specific steps needed to complete those tasks. Current course descriptions are featured below.
Supporting HSEN Workstations
An introduction to Active Directory emphasizing HSEN’s organizational unit structure focusing on workstation administrators’ functions, and featuring a practice session and a checklist for workstation setup. Topics include: ensuring proper network connections; setting up desktops, software, e-mail and user profiles; and printer and file management.
Supporting HSEN Servers
Designed for Server Officers providing support for HSEN servers. It reviews Active Directory and features multiple practice sessions and a checklist for server maintenance. Topics include: backup and restore functions; management consoles, accounts and groups (Webstar); network printers and shares; and file management.
On March 22, the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) announced the release of an intranet e-Learning Center created and maintained by the Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU). The Center is designed to accommodate the current and future staff training needs of 59 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) throughout New York State. Jack Lynch, principal accountant at NYSOFA, is the subject matter expert (SME) for the project.
The e-Learning Center integrates various statutes, regulations, and policies within a focused web-based training module. The module's first course, "Introduction to NYSOFA Grants," provides the AAA audience with key fundamental concepts related to grants accounting. NYSOFA intends to develop courses for all of the professional disciplines associated with its "Aging Network," which administers 15 or more federal and state aid grant programs. The Center is open to anyone with access to the NYSOFA Aging Network.
NYSOFA oversees AAAs sponsored by 52 county governments, the City of New York, two tribal governments, and four not-for-profit entities. Because a web-based training method is available 24/7/365, AAA staff can keep current without related travel expenses. ITU has created a number of web-based instructional programs for New York and Vermont state agencies.
The Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU) participated in a March 12, 2005 anthrax response drill organized by Schenectady County Public Health Service. ITU assisted the Center for Public Health Preparedness of the University at Albany's School of Public Health with observing and evaluating the event.
A number of community "staff" volunteers implemented a mass dispensing of oral prophylaxis at a local high school. This "point of dispensing," or POD, was established in response to the fictional release of anthrax at a local theatre. "Patient" volunteers were led through a series of stations, including triage, education, and medical screening, in this five-hour event.
ITU's interest in the exercise was to assess how instructional technologies, such as web-based or CD-ROM training, might assist local communities in emergency preparedness. Because these drills depend on the recruitment and retention of dedicated local participants, educating potential participants about the process may demystify volunteer expectations. ITU's Susan Jewell participated as a volunteer evaluator.
PDP has been selected to demonstrate an online course at the 21st annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning August 2-5 in Madison, Wisconson. Sponsored by the Unversity of Wisconsin Madison, the conference is internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious in the distance learning field, and is attended by over 1000 participants annually. Diane Tesiny, Associate Director, and Rebecca Stanley, Program Manager of the Instructional Technologies Unit, will present "Thinking Online: Solving the Street Prostitution Problem in Central City" in the course design showcase. This portion of the conference allows participants to view demonstrations of innovative course designs and examine instructional strategies, interface designs, interactions and learner outcomes.
Street Prostitution is a dynamic online course that challenges learners to research a specific crime problem, uncover possible solutions, and develop a targeted plan for dealing with the problem. It was developed under contract with the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing under a Department of Justice cooperative agreement. Since its launch in 2003 the course has attracted over 3900 learners and is used as a supplement to classroom instruction in Criminal Justice programs at several universities. It is available at www.popcenter.org.
To read more about the Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning visit www.uwex.edu/disted/conference.
Computer Training Services (CTS) began providing curriculum development and training for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ (OCFS) automated Time Record System (TRS) in the spring of 2004. TRS allows staff to easily record time worked and leave taken via a browser-based application. Moving into the new millennium, OCFS has taken this paperless approach to streamline the time record keeping process, make tracking timesheets easier, and provide for future opportunities to integrate this functionality with other systems.
Starting in 2004, OCFS employees in the Capital Region began attending TRS training and moving to the electronic system in departmental groups. While OCFS technical staff created the system and help files, CTS was wholly responsible for the design, development and production of training materials and related curriculum. The past year has been spent on the first phase of the rollout, migrating over 350 standard shift users from paper to the electronic timecard system. Later this summer, the second phase will commence, training staff that work under Compressed Work Week (or CWW) guidelines.Preparation for phase two involved substantial curriculum revision by CTS and the preparation and utilization of an additional trainer. When training for the initial group of CWW trainees is completed early this fall, CTS is looking forward to bringing the TRS system to the regional offices of OCFS. By the end of 2005, CTS will have trained over 500 OCFS staff members on TRS.
The Professional Development Program has been awarded a contract to create
e-learning for a major NYS labor union. In what was described as a very competitive
bidding environment, the Public Employees Federation (PEF) chose PDP's Instructional
Technologies Unit (ITU) to convert one module of the Basic Steward Training
Program – "Know Your Contract" – into asynchronous Web-based
training. A CD-ROM version of the same program will also be developed. The
training will be available to PEF leaders, stewards, activists, and members.
PEF represents approximately 53,000 NYS employees in the Professional, Scientific
and Technical (PS&T) bargaining unit.
PEF is committed to developing the competencies of current and future PEF leaders, members, and staff. The use of learning technologies plays a key role in expanding and enhancing this commitment. Online learning provides a viable alternative to working adults with multiple demands on their time to acquire additional knowledge, skills and abilities, and to enhance their personal and professional development. Online learning also provides a new tool for increasing access to learning events and resources.
The goal of "Know Your Contract" is to provide basic knowledge of the collective bargaining agreement, specifically the PS&T contract, to interested PEF members, elected representatives, and PEF staff who administer the agreement and who represent PEF members. The project will extend through early fall 2005.
Allan M. Lahoff, PEF Education Department Training Specialist, will work with ITU's Development Team headed by Ron Fancher. For more information about the PEF Education Department, visit their homepage at http://www.pef.org/et/index.htm.
The Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) has learned that the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) plans
to replicate DCF's Food Stamp Computer-Assisted Training (CAT) Program on its
national website. PDP's Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU) originally created
and developed the program for DCF in 2004.
The first course in a multifaceted CAT program, Food Stamp Program Training provides eligibility workers with complete and up-to-date training materials right at their own work stations. These materials are designed to assist workers in learning the program and keeping current with their program knowledge, skills, and abilities. PDP created a web-based e-learning center for DCF which houses courses and other resources and provides registration, tracking and evaluation tools. The Food Stamp Program Training course is built to maximize opportunities for workers to practice making decisions about food stamp eligibility based on a number of factors including household composition, income, and resources, and to calculate potential benefits. Ample feedback is provided to reinforce or correct learner decisions. Links to food stamp policy are also provided throughout.
On September 10, 2004, ITU presented the Food Stamp CAT technology to attendees of the FNS Northeast Regional Food Stamp Leadership Meeting in Fairlee, Vermont. Attendees included federal Food Stamp Program administrators and state agency Food Stamp Program managers from the six New England States and New York. This regional presentation led to the national exposure. National food stamp error rates for 2004 show VT experienced a marked improvement in its determinations, which state officials attribute, at least in part, to the online course.
"Congratulations to you all!" DCF Assistant Operations Chief Meg Huston told ITU. "Your hard work and long hours created a fabulous product! It is my honor to work with you!"
The Professional Development Program is pleased to announce that it has been selected to serve as an institutional board member for the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at the University at Albany. Through research, teaching, leadership development, networking, and public education, the Center works to promote equity for women in public service and inform policy makers and policy activists on issues related to women, children and families. The Center manages a number of important research projects, intitiatives, and fellowship programs that provide information, resources and leadership incentives for women and youth. PDP Director Eugene J. Monaco will be PDP’s representative on the CWIG&CS board. "PDP and the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society have long been active change agents and the practice arm of Rockefeller College. I am honored to serve on the board of an organization whose core mission so closely mirrors our own... of making a difference in a changing world."
The Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU) helped organize PDP's participation in an August 26, 2005 response drill held at the Albany County Department of Health. For the second time this year, PDP assisted the Center for Public Health Preparedness (CPHP) of the University at Albany's School of Public Health in a privately-held emergency preparedness drill.
The confidential drill enabled public health affiliates to practice a large-scale epidemiological investigation of a biological event -- a fictional botulism outbreak. PDP took part in the phone bank activity. Ten staff members role-played twenty-five callers to a hotline manned by community volunteer operators. Caller characters included the "worried well," the genuinely ill, health care workers, and news media. PDP volunteers were given scripts but also allowed to create characters they thought might be appropriate, such as public school officials and citizens concerned about terrorism. PDP volunteers collected data on connect time, length of call, and evaluated the performance of individual hotline operators during their 45 minute activity.
James B. Crucetti, M.D., Albany County Department of Health Commissioner, commended the volunteers for their efforts. "The assistance provided by the School of Public Health design team and volunteer participants was enormously helpful in assessing our ability to respond to a major public health challenge," the Commissioner said. "On behalf of our department, I extend my sincere thanks."
PDP's interest in the exercise was to support the mission of CPHP as well as assess how instructional technologies, such as web-based or CD-ROM training, might assist local communities in emergency preparedness. Because these drills depend on the recruitment and retention of dedicated local participants, educating potential participants about the process may demystify volunteer expectations. PDP volunteers included Vincent Ang, George Dowse, Daniel Feinberg, Kary Jablonka, Susan Jewell, Donna Markessinis, Ed Skawinski, Bryan Sotherden, Rebecca Stanley, and Diane Tesiny.
Director Eugene J. Monaco recently announced the establishment of the PDP Faculty Fellow Initiative. The FFI establishes an academic, professional practice and workforce performance training partnership comprising the University at Albany’s Graduate School of Social Welfare (SSW) and PDP. Mutually designed and developed FFI projects will complement certain PDP training projects and the intellectual, research and professional practice interests of selected SSW faculty. This partnership will provide PDP training staff/units with direct access to faculty who will work with them to further enhance aspects of training/technical assistance through improving knowledge of professional literature and assessing relevant best/science-based practices, including how to incorporate these into high quality workforce performance training. Projects will also increase opportunities for staff to participate in relevant research inquiries and studies.The 2005-2006 SSW Faculty Fellows are Drs. Brenda D. Smith and Toni Naccarato. Dr. Smith’s research interests include a focus on how organizational factors can affect service delivery and outcomes in the child welfare system. Dr. Naccarato’s research interests are related to youth emancipation issues, welfare status and human capital accumulation of youth and adolescents, which build on personal experiences as a former minority youth in foster care in New York State, and subsequent direct practice experiences in both New York and California.
The Temporary Assistance Training Unit’s Welfare-To-Work Training Team was selected to present at the 16 th Annual Staff Development Training Institute sponsored by the State of New York Office of Children and Family Services, Bureau of Training and Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Bureau of Training and Management Analysis. The Institute was held June 6-9, 2005 at the Hilton Lake Placid Resort in Lake Placid, New York.
The team of four (Cecilia Archer, Ginny Gilbertson, Diane Hodurski-Foley, and Hollie Vitola) led a two-hour interactive workshop entitled Motivation, Metaphor, & Memory: Using Imagery to Maximize Learning. This workshop was one of four showcased as a “Pick of the Vine for Novice Trainers”.
The workshop focused on using imagery in training or instructional materials to achieve genuine trainee “A-HA’s”. Participants learned how to use imagery (i.e., visual metaphors, objects, and graphics) to maximize learning as well as influence learner motivation and memory/retention using proven methods from the most recent multi-media research. Participants also learned how to bring new life to existing training programs and instructional materials by using evidence-based visual solutions.
Through participation in interactive group exercises, discussions, and demonstrations, workshop participants experienced first-hand how imagery contributes to the learning process and the benefits of using images in training, whether attendees designed, delivered, coordinated, or brokered training. Participants left the workshop with an array of resources and tools for utilizing this approach and making sound judgments when choosing training programs and instructional materials for their agency staff. This included a “loot bag” of new ideas and fun.
The workshop was well attended and favorably received by participants, including Commissioners, Staff Development Coordinators and training staff from local social services districts, as well as State training staff and University partners.
This workshop created quite a buzz at the Institute. One participant acclaimed: “Excellent trainers, on-target message. Great materials,” a sentiment that was shared by many!
Kary Jablonka, Director of Organization Development Projects at the Professional Development Program (PDP), was recently part of a special panel discussion, "Impact and Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." On September 13, 2005, the Center for Policy Research brought together experts from the University at Albany and Albany Law School to present different viewpoints to the university community.
Jablonka approached the discussion from the point of view of what happens at the intersection of planning and operations. "PDP is about the application of knowledge," he said. "In this case, planning for a disaster is the knowledge. Response is the application of everything learned. Unfortunately this natural disaster showed us what happens when knowledge -- and leadership -- are not applied."
Each panelist described the hurricane event from the perspective of his
or her own expertise, including social welfare, sociology, biology, meteorology,
public health, and law. Jablonka's varied interests include the study of
"Operating systems have rules that need to be clearly articulated," said Jablonka. "Roles and responsibilities -- who does what, when -- must be unmistakable and rehearsed. The preparation and response to this event violated everything we know about how organizations should respond to disaster."
And what about leadership? "Ah!" says Jablonka. "Leadership is the active ingredient!"
Thomas A. Birkland, Director of the Center for Policy Research, chaired the 90 minute discussion in Page Auditorium.
Jeff Isaacson, Child Support Enforcement Unit Senior Education Specialist, has been selected to serve on the New York State Training Council's (NYSTC) workshop committee for the Annual Institute. The NYSTC provides staff development activities for in-house trainers with many NYS government agencies. The Annual Institute offers trainers an opportunity to attend multiple and varied seminars on the same day in order to improve their training skills. The workshop committee will be responsible for recruiting and selecting appropriate speakers and topics for this one day activity to be held in early June 2006. While this activity is designed for NYS Agency trainers, many PDP trainers have attended and several have presented in past years.
On October 4, the Center for Public Health Preparedness (CPHP) at the University at Albany School of Public Health announced the public release of the online course "Preparedness and Community Response to Pandemics." The Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU) of the Professional Development Program created the course with Public Health Education Specialist Lindsay Benson and Dr. Robert G. Westphal, Director of CPHP.
The course, intended for a broad range of professionals, is available free of charge to the general public. It provides any learner, including the public health workforce, first responders, nurses, emergency room personnel, and other community partners, with fundamental concepts related to pandemic preparedness. When asked what he liked most about the course, one user said, "I thought that the technology was brilliant." Another user enjoyed the multimedia presentations (links to videos and radio broadcasts are available throughout the course). "This was the best online class I have taken," said another user. "I thought it was thorough, provided loads of practical advice, and was well laid out."
The course explores the epidemiology, historical context, and response
efforts related to seasonal and worldwide influenza outbreaks. Continuing
Education Credit is available.
"The modules I have taken from you are among the best I have ever had," another user commented. "I got so much out of this course that I recommended it to a co-worker. It's a tough course, but worth it!"
In the first two weeks, nearly 1,000 people registered for the Web-based
course. Learners are both international and from 49 states within the U.S.
The course is another part of CPHP's e-Learning center created by ITU and
available from the CPHP
website. These projects
are supported under a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH).
You can register for the course from the CPHP e-Learning Center.
On November 28, 2005, PDP Executive Director Eugene Monaco presented Peter J. Casale with the 2005 Distinguished Extended Learning Leadership Award of Excellence. Instituted in 2001, the award was established to recognize persons who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and made significant contributions in the field of extended learning for the public service. Awardees are distinguished by their accomplishments in the following areas:
- Demonstrated commitment to excellence and service in the field of extended learning.
- Sustained leadership in providing continuing professional education.
- Demonstrated vision that serves to advance the field of continuing professional education.
- Recognition by peers as being a leader in the field.
In presenting the award, Mr. Monaco remarked that “Mr. Casale embraces all of these characteristics and embodies all that is good about good government.”
Mr. Casale has been involved in New York State government for over 25 years. He is presently the Director of Training and Organization Development for the New York State Department of Environmental Conversation. Before assuming his current position, Mr. Casale was with the NYS Department of Labor as a training and development supervisor and internal consultant. Mr Casale has also worked on numerous other organization development and strategic planning projects with the NYS Department of Public Service, State Emergency Management Office, Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Economic Development. In addition, he serves as an adjunct professor at Rockefeller College, teaching courses in public administration and policy and has also served on the faculty of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Enforcement Training Institute and as an adjunct faculty member at Empire State College. He has been the recipient of the Maurice Schwadron Memorial Award presented in recognition for outstanding achievement in the human service resource profession by the NYS Training Council. He also is the recipient of the ASTD Hudson-Mohawk Chapter award as Outstanding Public Sector Trainer of the Year.
Past recipients of the Distinguished Extended Learning Leadership Award of Excellence are: Patricia Salkin, Albany Law School, Sydney Cresswell, Rockefeller College, and Sue Faerman, University at Albany.
Governor Jim Douglas visited Reach up Case Management Training being conducted at the Howe Center in Rutland, Vermont on November 4, 2005. Lead Trainer, Robin Scheu, a former neighbor of the governor who realized he was in the Center that day, invited him to sit in on the lesson. The participants, who are case managers with the Economic Services Division, were learning about strengths-based case management which is being used in the state of Vermont. Project Manager Jan McCracken directs activities for this project which is delivered in partnership with the State of Vermont.