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10 Reasons Why Government Training Is About to Be Completely Disrupted

I just finished reading a brand new report released by Katie Parris and Mario Morino of the Morino Institute entitled, “Just in Time: The Beyond-the-Hype Potential of E-Learning” – and I plan to give it a re-read sometime soon!

If you are interested in advancing your career or are responsible for helping others to do so, I’d go so far as to say it’s required reading. The way we learn and how we get information to do our jobs effectively is changing fast, and you need to understand the trends in order to stay a step ahead.

The report is absolutely packed with spot-on insights and dozens (maybe hundreds) of links to invaluable resources. Like a good “Learning Concierge (see page 28),” I tried to grab a few nuggets that struck me in order to break it into a few bite-sized chunks for you (see page 17). I share 10 headlines and a direct quote from the report to whet your appetite to read more.



1. What You Need to Know, You Need to Know Right Now.

“Over the next ten years, we will see, finally, the realization of ‘just-in-time learning’— being able to access information easily and inexpensively at the precise moment of relevance.”

2. What You Really Need Is a Certifiable Competency, NOT a 4-Year Degree.

“We will see many more employers move away from an exclusive focus on ‘seat time; and credit hours for determining whether candidates are qualified for positions. Employers will give increasing weight to competency-based assessment and certification, which offer the promise of faster, more effective career training, job searching, and matching of skills to needs.”

3. You Already Know What You Need to Learn (And How You Best Learn It).

“Learning consumers—especially young people for whom digital environments are second nature—are in the driver’s seat. And in our knowledge-driven economy, those who know how to fill knowledge gaps by themselves and skillfully curate content for others are in increasing demand.”

4. Let Me Know What You Need to Know and I’ll Go Get It for You!

“As employers seek to leverage e-learning offerings for talent development within their organizations, we will see the mainstreaming of the ‘learning concierge’ —content navigation experts who help others find and customize the content they need to learn in order to progress in their careers.”

5. You Want Learning in Bite-Size Chunks.

“Analysts and experts we consulted almost universally praised the Khan Academy model, which features learning curricula made up of short, modular, easily accessible videos and exercises, available to anyone where they are, when they need them, for what they need, multiple times, and at no cost. Instead of long lectures, Sal Khan and other Khan Academy instructors break down lessons into learning sequences along a knowledge map that students can follow to build mastery of any subject.”

6. You Want to Mix and Match Those Mini Modules.

“But the real power of disaggregation, or chunking, rests in its potential for remixing and revising content. Even just-in-time learning chunks can be part of a pedagogical sequence that conveys a bigger picture. When content is disaggregated and freely available to anyone anywhere, people who learn differently can go at their own pace.

7. You Want the Best Mix of Both In-Person and Online.

“We will see ‘blended learning’ proliferate, as organizations experiment with ways to make their educational offerings more relevant, personalized, and interactive, not just cheaper and more scalable.”

8. You Want More Than a Video of a Lecturer Droning On.

“… just putting content online doesn’t change anything. For instance, how many Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have done nothing more than videotape a professor’s lecture? Granted, more people can access the course if it’s delivered online. But was the lecture good to begin with, and how, if at all, was it made better?”

9. You Can’t Wait for the Next Open Enrollment Course.

“According to the 70-20-10 model, 70% of workplace learning occurs from on-the-job experiences; 20% through peers, coaches, and mentors; and only 10% from formal classroom training.”

10. You Might Be Self-Directed, But You’re Not Learning Alone.

“Just as students have always gathered in libraries to study in groups (and will continue to do so as modern libraries evolve), they are using Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to help each other with homework, prepare for tests, and share notes and thinking. They are also using social media sites to find fellow students and plan times to meet in person, whether for a study group or a party.


Trust me when I suggest that these 10 gems merely scratch the surface when it comes to the wealth of information in this report. The authors also include a section called, “Ways to Get Started” within your organization as well as with external audiences, and they included an excellent list of resources to help you get caught up on this subject quickly.

Can I Help You Move In This Direction?

As always, please also let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you move traditional events and training to the virtual space. GovLoop sees itself as a massive “learning hub” or
“knowledge network” for government that has been providing these kinds of social, e-learning opportunities for public sector professionals for years – and would like to advance this trend within government through direct support of agency events and training. Email me at [email protected] if you think I can be of assistance or would just like me to come by and talk to key stakeholders at your agency about these trends.


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William Thomas

Thanks for sharing this info Andrew! Good stuff! I will explore the book. My staff is using e-learning to build and enhance our website. They have access to several different on-line training sites with modules that lets them dig into what they need when they need it, apply it on the site, then go back to the training site when they have a question or are ready for the next level. It works!

Andrew Krzmarzick

William – Happy to hear it! I’d love to learn more about your work over at USDA (and sent you a note to connect).

Andrew Krzmarzick

Bill – Great article…and I think we know why MOOCs don’t work. They take the “build it and they will come approach.” What they fail to realize is that (most) adult learners need to be prompted along their learning journey. They need a guide or coach to help them move forward with the process in the midst of a busy life. And good engagement doesn’t just happen – that requires a facilitator as well.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

@Exactly! That’s why I think Small Personalized Online Classes (SPOCs) will win out over MOOCs. There is more than enough educational content floating around; what is needed is a guide/coach who can help the student navigate and assimilate that content into knowledge.

Peter Sperry

Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution (which sponsors its own MOOC) has repeatedly examined this question and pointed out that what MOOCs may (or may not) lack in inter-action, they more than make up for in reach. One graduate level Stanford analytics class was made available as a MOOC with the option to take the same take home final exam as those who attended the class in person with appropriate controls to prevent cheating. Although no academic credit was awarded to online students, when the exams were graded and ranked, the highest in class score only equaled the 467th on line score. Not because the online students were smarter or more diligent but because there were over 6000 of them of which just under 2000 took the exam. SPOCs may work well in developed first world countries but MOOCs will give the bright hardworking students in the rest of the planet more opportunity to compete.

Jan Stapleman

What is the purpose of education? This article looks at one purpose: to acquire the knowledge necessary to secure and perform a job. That’s great! We need that kind of knowledge, and our society benefits when we acquire it.

But please! As we all clamor on board this brave-new-world approach, let’s not assume this is the only kind of education that benefits us or society. We need to be informed citizens who understand how our world evolved (politically and scientifically) and how our nation fits into history. We benefit from developing an appreciation for and understanding of great literature, art and music. We benefit, and society benefits, if we examine the development of political ideologies and analyze where our own beliefs fit in. In the voting booth, society benefits if we actually understand the issues rather than voting from impressions gained during 30-second attack ads on television. Can you gain this wider knowledge without a college degree? Possibly so, if you’re self-directed and a lifelong learner. But a well-rounded college education sure helps lay the foundation.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

@Jan – Fully agree and wish most students had the same expansive view of education. But that just doesn’t seem to be the case nowadays.

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Bill and @Jan: But formal education is so increasingly expensive! I agree that there are certain things we learn in our current educational system that you won’t get from self-directed learning…but we’ve also got to find a way to lower the cost way of delivering knowledge. My guess is that you’d agree the current model is unsustainable.

Laura R. Murphy

@Bill: I like what you are saying about the difference between MOOC’s and SPOC’s — my own experience in a current MOOC has been disappointing because –despite the content and facilitator being FANTASTIC– it lacks the small group interaction, and thus, I have lost interest. @Andrew: Yes, it hasn’t been rewarding for me to come up with a thoughtful and unique post, only to have it lost among the 1,000s of other posts. So, now I simply check-in to view content, and get ideas on what to do and what not to do in my own traditional courses in academia where I am incorporating e-learning. This is a useful approach as we develop best practices for “blended learning.”

Marian Henderson

@Jan I wholeheartedly agree! We go to college to become a more well-rounded person, to get an education and not simply to get vocational training.

@Andrew I also agree that a formal education has become too expensive. My daughter just graduated from a public university so I have experienced this first-hand! There needs to be some middle ground, some blending of the different avenues for education in order to keep it affordable for the masses.