Government employees can now skip class, or at least the
classroom, to train. With technology, lessons may be as mobile as
the jet-setting executive.
Technology gives employees latitude in determining what, how, when,
and from whom they learn. Online and mobile learning programs allow
users to increase their choices and degree of control over learning
and professional development.
Learning Surges with Online Tools
The availability of online courses greatly expands the array of
learning opportunities that any given employee may tap into. These
courses also expand the flexibility to study when its most
convenient. In addition, many online courses foster rich
communication among learners and between learners and instructor.
Through chat rooms, message boards, and other synchronous and
asynchronous discussions, participants not only share knowledge but
get to know one another. Everyone has the opportunity to hear from
and respond to everyone else, and learningformal and informalsurges
as a result. Online learning also can engage learners by
taking a game-based approach.
Learning Choices at the Commerce Department
The Department of Commerces Chief Learning Officer Fred Lang was a
member of the internal team that helped develop an e-course on why
and how to safeguard personal identifying information. Lang
influenced the decision to use vivid graphics, 3D technology,
personal avatars, and a points-accumulation scenario. The training
has been well-received by both younger and older Commerce
employees, and the department is making it available to agencies
throughout the federal government.
Lang encourages employees to choose the learning activities that
will best suit their professional needs. The departments learning
management system enables them to manage their own training,
accessing thousands of online courses as well as registering for
classroom training and other learning sessions.
A new experimental executive education program draws on this
cafeteria approach and adds a mobile learning dimension to allow
executives to learn on the run.
Most of our executives had smart phones, netbooks, laptops, iPods,
and other mobile devices, Lang says.Why not let our busy executives
use the technologies theyre already using? That way, they can take
their education program with them as they commute, travel, or have
some downtime at home or at the office.
Just-What-I-Need Learning Without Limits
People dont learn by reading entire books or completing entire
training courses, Lang says.From any learning opportunity, they get
what they need at the time and then move on.
With that recognition, learning professionals can use technology to
tremendous advantage to aord employees nearly unlimited learning
resources to dip into as the need arisesand then go from there. For
one employee, that might mean downloading a business school case on
leading change and following its links and citations to countless
For another, it could mean identifying a likely resource person and
shooting o a message. For yet another, it could be posting a
pressing question to an online community to see who responds.
It is the organizations responsibility to actively support such
continuous, open-ended, technology-supported opportunities for
learning. Highly engaged employees will take it from there!