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Creating a Learning Challenge in Your Agency

Deadra Welcome, Learning and Performance Strategist at the U.S. Census Bureau, gave a great presentation on Creating a Learning Challenge at the Training Officer’s Consortium’s Annual Executive Institute in Ocean City, MD this week. Deadra shared her experience in building and delivering an engaging 30-day HRU learning challenge with no budget at the Department of Energy.  Here are 2 key takeaways from the session:

  1. The Changing Role of L&D Professionals

Research shows that 70-80% of learning happens informally.  Yet, most learning professionals spend the majority of their time focused on formal learning.  A new role of the L&D specialist is emerging: to curate learning resources for employees to support informal learning.

  1. Steps in Creating a Learning Challenge

Deadra shared 6 key steps to create a learning challenge in your agency:

Step 1 – Plan: Define your “Point A” (current state) and “Point B” (desired future state). Set 3 specific goals for your learning challenge. Define the length of your challenge, the target audience, the forms of recognition you will use and how often you will share updates.

Step 2 – Engage: Consider how you will get learners to interact with your challenge. Create interesting resources like games and assessments provide clear instructions for participants.  Host challenge events and reward participant engagement and achievements incrementally with points and badges that lead to creative incentives.

Step 3 – Launch: Enlist the help of senior leadership and make them key speakers at your events. Communicate regularly throughout the challenge, especially when participants sign up and when they earn rewards.

Step 4 – Promote: Provide weekly or bi-weekly communications through email and social media to participants. Engage participants’ competitive spirit by encouraging them to play against one another.

Step 5 – Track: Set a tracking strategy including the activities that participants completed. Tools for tracking don’t have to be expensive and can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet.  Conduct focus groups to gain qualitative feedback.

Step 6 – Share: Create a toolkit to help train others in your agency and in other agencies to create their own learning challenges for their programs. Share your experience wherever you can through formal and informal channels.

Deadra’s toolkit for creating a learning challenge is available to HR ambassadors through OPM.  This toolkit includes a sample flyer for a Lunch & Learn session, challenge instructions, a learning challenge game board, a keep learning challenge store, a template for an “I Took the Challenge” email, pictures and attachments for emails, a template for a “You Earned Bucks & Awards” email, an Excel spreadsheet to track progress and a sample weekly status email.

To get a copy of this toolkit or learn more about creating a learning challenge at your agency, contact Deadra at [email protected].

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