Learning Isn’t Where You Are, It’s What You Do

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, The Future of Human Resources in Government. Download the full guide here.

What comes to mind when you hear the words “job training?” It’s a loaded question for sure, because there are multiple thoughts and feelings we’ve all associated with the training experience.

Maybe you immediately thought of a classroom setting, complete with an instructor and a sea of somewhat-engaged students. Or perhaps you thought of a PowerPoint presentation shared with a room full of conference attendees.

These experiences have no doubt shaped the way we define and view job training. “We have to actually go to a place and learn something, and that’s often called training,” said Andrew Krzmarzick, Vice President of Learning and Development at GovLoop. “But we can no longer rely solely on these single points in time where we have scheduled training.”

Imagine a series of dots on a whiteboard. Those single points represent scheduled trainings for employees. Now imagine those dots being connected with a series of lines. Krzmarzick and his team at GovLoop are focused on those lines, which represent the experiences happening outside of scheduled trainings.

They call these short, practical and engaging experiences “micro learning.”

“When we say learning, what we’re trying to suggest is that it’s not just about a point in time where you may get what you need either in a classroom or from a page turner module, it’s something that’s more ongoing,” Krzmarzick said. “It’s something that happens in a community. Learning is gradual, and it never stops. It happens in moments of need, on a day-to-day basis, so you can’t really wait until the next scheduled training.”

Krzmarzick has always viewed GovLoop’s growing knowledge network of federal, state and local government employees as a learning community. “I saw the potential for people to answer one another’s questions or to share their experience in the trenches, via blog posts and discussion forums, to help one another to learn how to do their jobs better,” he said. “What we’re doing at GovLoop — providing real-time, relevant information through online content and trainings — is the future of learning.”

GovLoop Academy is an extension of that work. It’s essentially a new format of the online content that government employees have come to expect from GovLoop. GovLoop Academy provides more than 30 free, interactive online courses that cover a range of topics, including career, citizen engagement, human resources and procurement. Participants can earn digital badges and certificates upon completing the courses. Seeing this modern, mobile-ready website, several agencies are working with GovLoop to customize a version of the same platform to facilitate engagement with their online learning content.

Krzmarzick and his team have also designed and delivered innovative learning experiences for agencies such as the Federal Highway Administration, Office of Personnel Management and the Small Business Administration.

These learning experiences provide short bursts of information, using videos with interactive components to apply what you learn, as well as knowledge checks that test that you’ve actually acquired knowledge.

Through the power of technology, this online learning model can be scaled to reach many more people, while also saving agencies time and money.

What agencies appreciate about the learning platform is it provides a simple, clean and modern learning environment that can be accessed anywhere from any device.

“The technology is really the enabler of getting that information in real-time,” Krzmarzick said. “The more that we can create libraries of good content that are short, relevant and engaging, I think the more we’re able to support government professionals with the learning experiences they need to achieve their agencies’ missions.”

GovLoop is partnering with agencies to explore innovative ways of developing courses using an agile approach. Below are a few of the other trends in government that are redefining the future of learning:

Micro learning is about moving from deep attention to hyper learning. It allows learners to digest information in short time blocks, in between meetings, during lunch or while commuting to work.

Flipped classrooms allow learners to get good content in advance. Participants consume the content and come prepared to share their knowledge at a live in-person or online training session. This creates a dialogue and boosts participation and knowledge sharing among the group.

Minimally viable courses are an alternative approach to content development. Rather than build out an entire course, which can take months or even a year, with this approach you build just enough content. You can use real-time evaluations (both knowledge checks and satisfaction surveys) to determine effectiveness and then adjust the learning experience in subsequent weeks based on participant input.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money,” Krzmarzick said. “Approaches like flipped classrooms and minimally viable courses can help agencies reach a wider audience and do a lot more with a lot less.”


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