In-person training has long been the default for many government agencies, but the widespread adoption of remote work in 2020 has changed the dynamics.
While agencies were already using online training platforms to some extent — for self-paced and even blended learning – the shift to online learning dramatically accelerated out of necessity.
However, successful delivery of training in a virtual environment requires more than taking activities that were previously done on-site and lifting and shifting them to an online platform, said Bryna Dash, Vice President of Business and Government at Blackboard.
“Blackboard is focused on the data and identifying anomalies or trends to help agencies improve their courses and programs over time, and even see how they’re impacting mission,” she said. “It’s not just about ensuring employees complete the course and check the box, but how did that actually improve the mission?”
Dash shared best practices that agencies can prioritize to ensure a smooth and lasting transition to online learning.
1. Know your goals.
Knowing the desired outcome of your training program is critical. You should create goals to provide clarity on learning objectives, collect employee performance data, and measure it against standards and desired outcomes. For more complex goal sets, you may want to establish connections and relationships between them (goal mapping).
2. Know your transformation strategy.
Once you’ve identified your goal, you can begin detailing what transformation looks like, Dash said. That includes determining how you need to retrofit the course or upskill instructors to optimize online delivery.
A large part of successful learner outcomes is figuring out the best teaching strategies for your subject matter and for employees. Keeping learners engaged and excited about learning is a combination of course design and collaborative tools. Both the learning content (asynchronous) and collaboration (synchronous) should be seamless for learners.
Also consider the delivery mode. Refactoring or personalizing content for each learner can improve their individual outcomes. For example, micro-learning, audio files, and language translations should be automated – easing the burden for instructors and meeting individual learner needs.
3. Know what’s possible.
Not all learning management vendors are created equally. Dash stressed the importance of sussing out your LMS provider to understand the core of what they do and all the offerings they provide.
“We focus on the whole aspect of teaching and learning, not just the technology that supports that,” Dash said of Blackboard. That includes supporting agencies with creating goals for learning, a roadmap for migrating training content and improving it, and how to make data-driven decisions to improve training programs.
“Agencies that invest now to meet the needs of their increased remote workforce will be the agencies with best-in-class online learning programs for years to come,” Dash said. “These agencies will save money on travel and building space, and will have the rich data sets available from their online tools to enable substantive improvements to their programs over time.”