The purpose of this study was to identify training topics and distance education technologies preferred by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees. This study was conducted on behalf of the National Conservation Training Center to support their distance education strategy planning and implementation. When selecting survey recipients, we focused on employees in positions involving conservation and environmental education and outreach programming.
We conducted the study in two phases. First, we surveyed 72 employees to identify useful training topics. The response rate was 61 percent; respondents were from all regions and included supervisors and nonsupervisors. Five topics for training were identified: creating and maintaining partnerships (partnerships), technology, program planning and development (program planning), outreach methods to engage the community (outreach methods), and evaluation methods.
In the second phase, we surveyed 1,488 employees to assess preferences for training among the five topics identified in the first survey and preferences among six distance education technologies: satellite television, video conferencing, audio conferencing, computer mediated training, written resources, and audio resources. Two types of instructor-led training were included on the survey to compare to the technology options. Respondents were asked what types of information, such as basic facts or problem solving skills, were needed for each of the five topics. The adjusted response rate was 64 percent; respondents were from all regions and included supervisors and nonsupervisors.
The results indicated clear preferences among respondents for certain training topics and technologies. All five training topics were valued, but the topics of partnerships and technology were given equal value and were valued more than the other three topics. Respondents indicated a desire for training on the topics of partnerships, technology, program planning, and outreach methods. For the six distance education technologies, respondents indicated different levels of usability and access. Audio conferencing and written resources were reported to be most usable and accessible. The ratings of technology usability/access differed according to region; respondents in region 9 rated most technologies higher on usability/access. Respondents indicated they would take courses through either onsite or distance education approaches, but they prefer onsite training for most topics and most types of information.