More Online Training – You Asked. We Listened.

We’re always hearing from our customers that they need more lead time to know the classes that we’ll be offering, especially because many agencies require employees to put in their training requests for the next fiscal year sometime in the summer. So I’m excited that for the first time Web Manager University will be announcing both our Fall AND Spring courses in July (not just the Fall courses).

As part of our planning process, we sent a survey to the 2000+ community that participates in the federal web managers listserv. The survey asked people about their most pressing training needs, the type of training that’s most useful to them (in-person, webinar, etc.) and what their biggest constraints are for attending class. The one thing we heard loud and clear – you have LESS MONEY, and LESS TIME.

I feel your pain. I know you’re trying to fit training into an already crazy busy schedule. So we plan to offer more webinars and online training, to minimize having to trek across town. Plus, we’re looking into ways to create some online self-paced tutorials. Since our community is located across the country we will be able to reach a broader audience by using online technologies like livestreaming, live blogging, and webinar software.

That said – we also recognize the importance of face-to-face networking and learning. As we continue to leverage technology how can we preserve the wealth of information we gain from our peers? How can we mimic the brainstorming and problem solving that takes place during an in-person session? These are questions we still haven’t fully answered and we will be piloting some ways to make it happen. For instance – we’d love to experiment with “ask the expert”-style live chats and online discussion groups to help people share resources after classes.

Does anyone out there have suggestions for other ways we can create these kinds of interactive learning experiences?

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Janet Lynn Linton

I have taken several courses online and have found that having a presentation followed by a online discussion (via chat room) was very rewarding. Doing it this way allows for the viewer to absorb the information as it is presented, write down any questions one has, then engage in an informative chat session – with the option to email the instructor after the session has ended. In addition, it’s helpful to offer a reference sheet prior to and after the session. Another idea is to have an archive of past sessions online for those who are unable to attend.


Interesting. I think live chats are good. I do like self-paced tutorials as well out there. And definitely capturing the content via blogs/video is key

And generally I think there is no perfect solution. A mix of each is key.

Have you tried during work hours and after work hours? Which one of those is more successful?

Janet Lynn Linton

Self paced tutorials are a great asset – especially when there are additional resources available – such as the ability to email questions. I have taken the classes both while at work and at home. It really depends upon the individual and upon the content involved. For instance, when taking advanced 3D classes I found that Saturday mornings worked best as I did not feel the need to rush. I agree, having a mix is the best solution as everyone learns differently and schedules vary.

Andy Houghton

One of my colleagues came up with a great metaphor about e-learning. It’s a bit like a microwave, she said, when they came out we thought we were going to use them for everything. Some years down the line we find they are really good for some things, porridge, scrambled eggs and not so good for others. Sometimes you start things off in the microwave and then put them in the oven to finish them off, for example baked potatoes. Just like the microwave, the trick seems to be using e-learning for the things it’s good at, and blending delivery methods to get the best of both worlds.

One thing that a lot of the groups I work with are trying is using e-learning as a part of the blend, but also doing the e-learning together in small, informal groups. (There’s no rule that says standalone e-learning has to be completed individually.) This seems to be especially helpful with the softer skills, and in situations where some of the users might not be too comfortable using computers.

Certainly when the costs of attending a training session, and also the sometimes forgotten administration costs are added together, it makes sense that time spent together in a ‘classroom’ situation is put to maximum effect. Preparing for the session this way seems to be one way forward.

Dannielle Blumenthal

Lunch and learns are good, if they’re not too far away. Also breakfast seminars (very short). Any opportunity to bring people together, learn and share lessons learned, and promote cross-pollination of best practices across agencies & organizations.