Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Free Online Classes From FEMA
My country's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a bunch of free independent study online classes. I started poking around and there's some neat stuff in there.
You can read all the material for free online, and only need to create a free login if you want to take the exams. Some of these just fascinate me because I love learning about preparedness so I can be a more prepared person. I think fiction authors, game designers, roleplaying Game Masters/Dungeon Masters, and similarly imaginative folks could get a lot out of digging into these.
Caution that some of the material is more abstract like "Here Are The Nine Principles You Will Be Tested On". Like, "IS-2901: Introduction to Community Lifelines" is expected to take an hour to complete, and tells you:
Community Lifelines are the most fundamental elements in the community (e.g. fire, police, hospitals, gas, etc.) that enable a functioning society. The stabilization of these elements are crucial to supporting the day-to-day needs of the community....
and lists out the seven Comunity Lifelines: Safety and Security; Food, Water, Shelter; Health and Medical; Energy; Communications; Transportation; and Hazardous Materials. So, that might be a good jumping-off point for further thinking, but don't necessarily expect in-depth concrete how-to guidance from the shorter classes.
Each course has an time estimate which correlates to how many Continuing Education Units professionals get for passing the test. 1 hour means 0.1 CEUs.
Courses that make me want to nerd out for the sake of nerding out:
Courses that I may take because I predict they'd help me in my job or volunteering (like with the open defibrillator data initiative):
I hope I won't ever need these, but won't it be handy to know them if I do:
(Also, there are multiple courses on how to respond to an active shooter, so I may poke around and figure out whether any of them make sense for me to read.)
Based on the one course I've checked out, the self-paced independent study materials are properly accessible (mostly text, with transcripts and captions for the few video clips), with little multiple-choice knowledge check quizzes interspersed to help you check your knowledge. And instead of clicking through a hundred little webpages, it's usually possible to step through a few of them and then get to a an all-in-one printable page of the entire course (example). For some it's not, and I may follow up on this Ask MetaFilter thread I started about it.
Materials EMI produces are in the public domain, so, by default, these courses are public domain as well. A few mention in their descriptions that the materials include copyrighted materials.
FEMA offers these independent study courses via one of its three training orgs: its Emergency Management Institute at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC), which also offers in-person classes. Seems unlikely I'll ever take one in person, but who knows where my life will lead!