The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a venerable law enforcement agency founded 131 years ago to safeguard the Northwest territories, has selected the WebCT Vista(TM) academic enterprise system to centrally manage a wide array of courses, Web pages and learning objects for its 23,000-employee force.

Unlike many law enforcement agencies, RCMP has a staggering range of federal, provincial and municipal policing responsibilities across the country, from homeland security to front-line local policing. It has all of the responsibilities in Canada that the Drug Enforcement Administration, ATF, FBI, Secret Service and others have in the U.S. As such, it has a monumental training burden.

To that end, RCMP currently operates a diverse range of interactive public Web pages, intranet pages, remotely managed courses, and online exams on multiple platforms. With WebCT Vista, the agency will for the first time centrally manage all learning activities on a single platform, enabling it to save time and money while dramatically improving education.

With WebCT Vista, the RCMP will be able to use a single learning object for each piece of content rather than creating a separate instance of that content for each of the courses in which it appears. This approach saves enormous amounts of time when content needs revision or updating, but mostly provides RCMP employees with access to the same updated file no matter where they access it from.

The RCMP will for the first time be able to achieve real-time integration between learning content and its PeopleSoft human resources management system (HRMS), giving senior RCMP officers up-to-the-minute access to all officer competencies at all times. This access will ensure that personnel who pass a certification exam one day can prove they have that qualification for field training the next.

RCMP will be able to create communities of practice (COPS) that enable personnel in the same specialty to know who’s online at any given instant and share information in chat and asynchronous discussion groups. RCMP will also be able to create limited-access content areas for authorized personnel in special units, limiting investigation information to those who need to know.

The selection of WebCT Vista over a number of course management alternatives is one component of RCMP’s evolving e-learning program. WebCT Vista will support the police academy’s shift from standard instructor-led training to small-group, problem-based learning. It will also support the agency’s shift from comprehensive online courses to pared-down operational support knowledge delivered in 15-minute nuggets, precisely when officers need it.

If, for example, an investigator receives information that a drug shipment will take place the next morning, the investigator can go online, access an “Investigator’s Toolbox,” and find all the tools to obtain a warrant, including a warrant template with interactive instructions for filling in the blanks. That learning object will also link users to context-sensitive “dos and don’ts,” policies, applicable laws, relevant case law and additional resources, including people the investigator can telephone for advice.

Another reason RCMP selected WebCT Vista, according to Pare, is that it is a “perfect match” from an IT perspective, supporting BEA WebLogic application servers, an Oracle(R) database, the PeopleSoft HRMS and the LDAP standard. Yet another advantage of WebCT Vista is that RCMP didn’t have to buy separate tools for chat, discussion, assessment and delivery.

“RCMP is a premier organization by any measure, and its use of WebCT Vista demonstrates our flexibility within and beyond higher education,” said Carol Vallone, WebCT President and CEO. “We are pleased RCMP has turned to WebCT to help educate and train the people who make up this important Canadian organization.”

The RCMP relies on WebCT reseller Bluedrop Performance Learning for software implementation and support.