(Part of an ongoing series featuring Rich Media Impact Award finalists)

Earlier this spring there was potential that workers from 69 nursing homes in Connecticut would walk off the job when their contracts expired, impacting most aspects of agency operations. The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) learned the strike was looming and took action. The first order of business was training scores of strike monitors. The training had to be consistent and standardized, highly accessible and happen in a very short period of time. DPH turned to Mediasite.

“We had to provide training to nursing home administrators, team leaders and ancillary staff,” said Janet Williams, DPH services manager. “We were able to provide training to three separate audiences in the midst of a looming crisis. This freed up managers’ time so they could focus on planning activities. It also produced that asynchronous content so staff could use that material as reference 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

That kind of just-in-time communication was only part of what Christopher Stan had in mind when DPH purchased a Mediasite ML Recorder in 2007. “We had the plan to leverage existing resources including cameras and audio equipment we had in the department. We planned to track the learning content that we were going to produce with our existing learning management system,” said Stan, who is the distance learning coordinator at DPH.

The system is called TRAIN Connecticut. Each learner has their own password and login ID, and they are able to search for courses. Since deploying Mediasite the agency has recorded more than 240 programs and had over 13,000 views. More than 4,200 were in 2010 alone.

According to Stan, Mediasite has transformed the way DPH does business. “Some advantages we’ve seen with Mediasite are that it saves time and money, but also the asynchronous nature of the content allows us to stretch training across time and space. Everyone doesn’t have to be in one place at one time. It reduces our carbon footprint and we can reach large audiences very quickly. Learners love it.”

Training strike monitors was just one way DPH used Mediasite to time-shift training. Here’s another. State code requires the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to hold annual, day-long training sessions for 77 local health departments.

We had many complaints on this program from 2001 to 2006,” said Rhonda Wisniewski, health program assistant. “The main concerns were the availability, locations and hours spent away from the office. In 2007 our program began using Mediasite.”

After getting approval for online training from the EPA, the Connecticut Environmental Health Association and the DPH, Wisniewski designed and recorded 11 modules to comply with the training standard.

“We were the first dept within the DPH to use Mediasite to provide online training to Connecticut’s local health departments. It became very popular,” said Wisniewski. “They could log on, take the training anytime, pause and rewind. It was very efficient and easy for them to use.”

So far more than 1000 housing code officials have been trained for less than $18 per student. Equivalent classroom based training costs $175 per student

“This produced a cost-benefit ratio of 14 to one. That’s fantastic, especially in these times of shrinking budgets. That’s an ROI of 1294%,” said Stan. “These are just two stories with great results in each case. We’ve seen how Mediasite has helped save the department money and it’s also improved response time. These are not just stories. They are models. They represent a new way for DPH to do business.”

DPH is an RMIA finalist in the Healthcare category. Watch the ceremony live on May 18.