Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TSA needs some instructional designers!

Hi friends,

If you live in the USA, you've doubtless heard something of the furor concerning the new AIT/backscatter image scanners in some of our airports, and the contemporaneous development of "enhanced" patdowns--which many people have compared to groping or sexual assault. Outrage is high, lines are long, and it seems as though the Transportation Security Administration may finally have gone too far.
Image from Furry Girl/feminisnt.com
But the interesting thing comes from Department of Homeland Security's internal proceedings, as reported by the American Civil Liberties Union. Many of the complaints listed refer to training design: TSA made no plans to update its training, did not train TSOs (officers) to use the current equipment, did not provide TSOs with time to complete required trainings, and most importantly, developed training assessments in such a way that TSOs were able to merely sign a declaration affirming that they had completed the training and learned the materials (Ito, 2010).

That's right: their training methods apparently include no final assessment of learner capabilities, and rely solely on signed statements that the learners have understood it all. It also sounds like their recurrent training program consists of reading materials alone, without any sort of practical experience or assessment.

Perhaps an instructional design team could have helped them to avoid the current fiasco. (Yes, this is tongue-in-cheek, but I think there's also some truth to it. The way that agencies choose to support or ignore their training needs has lasting impact on their relationships with the public, and they need to pay attention.)


Ito, S. (2010, November 17). TSA has no time to train its screeners. Retrieved from http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty/tsa-has-no-time-train-its-screeners .