In 1996, the National Park Service (NPS) began to strategically plan for new frameworks and approaches to training employees. In doing so, the NPS sought to modify the way in which it delivered training programs to include new and forward-looking technologies. Since NPS training had, up until this time, only been delivered via classroom courses, there was an expressed need to examine current technologies and understand how those new technologies could be integrated into NPS training and development.
Understanding that there were a number of emerging technologies that could be integrated in the NPS, the NPS partnered with the Eppley Institute in 1997 to outline a process for initiating distance learning within the NPS. This resulting project:
- Performed a review of the ways in which NPS educational materials could be delivered to its employees.
- Recommended institutional realignment to allow for a TEL Progam Manager.
- Composed a plan to deploy and install the infrastructure for delivery of satellite courses.
- Integrated competency-based training into each of the TEL envionrnents.
- Provided a foundation for methodically delivering training programs in the NPS.
- Laid the groundwork for future working partnerships between the NPS and the Institute.
Building on the efforts of the original strategic plan, the NPS TEL program has grown to incorporate satellite broadcasts, computer-based training including e-courses, standard teleconferences, and web-based teleconferences. As of fiscal year 2004, the TEL program delivered approximately 100 satellite events per year that included 150 downlink sites, an estimated 8,500 employees, and a total of 24,000 training hours.
As the TEL program has evolved, many new opportunities for the NPS have been created. Recently, the NPS-Eppley Institute partnership resulted in appointment of a full-time visiting faculty member from the Eppley Institute to serve as the TEL instructional designer at the Stephen T. Mather Training Center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.