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1. introductions and problem solving

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  • 1. Week 1 Lecture Introductions and Problem SolvingOverviewThis first week allows us to get to know each other a little better via the Discussion Board. I’minterested to hear about your backgrounds, interests, and why you’re taking this course. This willhelp me direct some of the discussions we have and ensure you get as much out of this course aspossible. Some of you may be fairly new to the world of emergency management, while othersmay be seasoned veterans.You will also complete your first FEMA Independent Study course on “Decision Making andProblem Solving,” which will hopefully provide you some tools for the rest of the quarter.Finally, there are a couple of preparation activities. While they do not need to be completed thisweek, you should start thinking about them now as they will need to be completed in the nextfew weeks.Objectives – In this module, you will: 1. Understand where to find all the course components. 2. Introduce yourself to the other course participants. 3. Learn how the problem solving process can be broken down into a few steps. 4. Understand the importance of ethical decision making. 5. Apply decision making skills to disaster case studies.LectureLet’s get started with our first lecture! If you’re fairly new to the online learning environment,this may be a little different than what you’re used to. Online learning is more than watchingvideos of classroom lectures. Instead, you’ll be more actively involved in the learning process bydiscussing the lessons with your fellow students and me in the online Discussion Board. You’llstill be learning on your own (primarily by taking online FEMA courses and via other readings),but this class is designed to promote collaboration with others. If you’re not already aware,collaboration is key in emergency management. One agency—let alone one person—cannot doeverything needed for effective disaster preparedness, protection, response, recovery ormitigation. This is why there are so many groups involved in emergency management.Please begin by introducing yourself to me and to the rest of the class on the Blackboard (Bb)“Discussion Board” (which is due Saturday). You should then respond to at least two of yourfellow students’ posts by Tuesday. If you haven’t yet participated on a Discussion Board, or ifyou need a reminder of how to create posts, you can watch an introductory video by clickinghere (select the blue link by pressing the Ctrl button on your keyboard and clicking the link).You will find what information needs to be posted on the Discussion Board in the AssignmentsSummary below as well as in the actual Discussion Board. As students have the potential tocome from a variety of businesses, organizations, government departments, etc I use the term“organization/department” throughout the course as a catch-all to describe the place youassociate yourself with. For those of you with practical experience in emergency management, Page 1 of 4
  • 2. I’d really like you to share some of your personal experiences in this discussion and throughoutthe rest of the course. This makes the discussions more interesting, shows how emergencymanagement processes are in place in the “real world”, and allows us to learn from each other. Inthe words of Sir Isaac Newton, who just happened to go to school near where I grew up, “If Ihave seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”You can access the Discussion Board either from a link in the “Week 1” folder or from theDiscussion Board button on the course menu. Both links take you to the same place, but the linkin the Week 1 folder requires one less mouse click. I mentioned collaboration is a focus of thisclass, and emergency management in general, so you will be asked to post twice in theDiscussion Board for most weeks. Your first posting will answer a question(s) I pose and thesecond posting should be a response to your fellow students. I typically require the first post tobe made by the Saturday of each week, which gives others a few days to respond.Within the Discussion Board, I have also created a “Student Lounge” as an opportunity to postinformal messages to each other about the course or other unrelated topics. In addition, I havecreated a “Resource Area” to post resources that may be of interest to others. To access theseareas on Blackboard, click on the “Discussion Board” link in the course menu on the left handside of the screen and click on the “Student Lounge” or “Resource Area” respectively. I’ve listedlinks in the Resource Area alphabetically according to their source. I recommend you check outboth areas as they contain resources that may come in handy (e.g., a list of acronyms and termsused in emergency management).In addition, and in the spirit of collaboration, I’ve created a Delicious account for everybody toshare websites they think may be useful to the rest of the class. To access the account, use thefollowing information: URL: www.delicious.com Username: UCLASU12 Password: xxxxxxxxxI have also created a link to Delicious in the “Resource Area” of the “Discussion Board.” Youwill not be graded on if you contribute to this site or even if you visit.You’ll notice there are no required textbooks for this class (I do however list on the syllabus oneoptional online text book, which will provide more context to the class). Instead, you’ll bereading through several FEMA Independent Study Courses. A lot of emergency managementdepartments will ask you to complete some of these courses if you want to become an intern orjoin the department. After completing seven of the classes (you can see which ones by clickinghere), FEMA will automatically issue you a Personal Development Series certificate. In addition,you can count some of the training towards getting certified by the International Association ofEmergency Managers (IAEM) as a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) or AssociateEmergency Manager (AEM) (for more information on certification, click here).For our first week, I would like you to take FEMA’S Independent Study course Decision Makingand Problem Solving, which also has a link in the Readings folder. The ability to solve time-sensitive problems is essential for emergency management professionals as your decisions ateach step in the decision-making process may have an impact on lives, property, and theenvironment. Your problem solving will be made easier if you and your organization have Page 2 of 4
  • 3. planned ahead by putting down in writing specific actions and steps to take in documents such asan Emergency Operations Plan and Standard Operating Procedures. The FEMA course breaksdown the steps in the problem-solving model and explains how personality styles affect decision-making. The course also discusses the components of ethical decision making, some ethical“dos” and “don’ts”, and provides case studies to demonstrate some ethical decisions that mayarise in an emergency response. Finally, you will apply the problem-solving model to a disaster-related case study.You should also take the FEMA test that follows the online training (the training should have alink to the test and the homepage of the course also has a link). I highly recommend you keep arecord of your answers as you go through the test. The website has an uncanny knack of losingsome of your answers and requiring you to re-answer the same questions. If you don’t pass thetest the first time, don’t worry. Just familiarize yourself with the material again and retake thetest until you do pass. Once you have passed your test, you will see a message on the websitesaying your certificate will be emailed to you within 1- 2 days. Don’t worry! (Do you promise?)You should get an email from FEMA within a few hours with a link to your certificate that youcan then download, save and print. If you have trouble saving your certificate, please email methe link to your certificate so I can see that you completed the course. You should then uploadyour electronic certificate to Blackboard (there will be an area on the page describing theassignment where you’ll upload the electronic document). Please save your electronic copy ofyour certificates in a safe place as you may need them at a later date and I don’t know how longyour certificates stay online.Finally, there are a couple of assignments you can start preparing for now. This will save youtime in the upcoming weeks when you may be busier. In week 5 you will each be asked tointerview an emergency management professional by phone or in person (which could begovernment or non-government) and who has responded to a disaster. This interview andreport will be worth 25 points out of a possible 150 points for all the assignments. In week 3 thecourse group will come up with a list of questions to ask and in week 6 you will need to submit apresentation on what you learned during your interview. So, please consider who you may wantto interview. This person preferably is somebody you may need to work with in the future whoyou haven’t built an existing relationship with. If you can’t find anybody to interview, please askthe rest of the group for suggestions on the Discussion Board. If they can’t help, contact me andI’ll help you find somebody.The presentation you make in week 6 will be with Screencast-o-matic.com (the link to thewebsite is also in the Week 1 folder). You are not required to upload a Screencast presentation toBlackboard this week but I strongly recommend you create a practice presentation for yourself.Your computer will need a microphone and Java software for a screencast to be created.An optional activity for this week is to review FEMA’s recommendations to Be Informed, Makea Plan, Build a Kit, Get Involved. The site provides information on how to be better prepared athome for disasters and covers information such as how to build a disaster supplies kit and createa family disaster plan. While all members of the public should be prepared at home for a disaster,it is especially important for those who work in emergency management. After an emergencysituation, you need to know your family is safe if you’re to be effective in your emergencymanagement position. Assignments Summary Page 3 of 4
  • 4. Read: FEMA self-study “IS-241.a Decision Making and Problem Solving”: http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is241a.asp [Due Monday]Discuss: Provide an autobiography of yourself with the information requested in the discussion thread (e.g., what previous experience you have in emergency management) [Due Friday]. Also, engage in a discussion with at least two others by responding to their bios [Due Monday].Prepare: 1) Identify an emergency management professional; 2) Become familiar with how to create a presentation on Screencast-o-matic.com; 3) Ensure you have a computer with a microphone and Java software in week 6.Optional Prepare: Review the information provided by FEMA on how to Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Get Involved Page 4 of 4