As part of today’s Government Innovator’s Virtual Summit, GovLoop President and Founder Steve Ressler and GovLoop Vice President of Learning and Development Andrew Krzmarzick sat down for a Q&A to answer all your virtual training questions.
Q. How did GovLoop get started in virtual training?
Steve: More than six year ago, GovLoop started out with the vision of becoming the ‘Facebook for government,’ but now overtime the missions shifted to become more of a knowledge network for government. Our users wanted a learning utility. That transition brought us online trainings. Last year more than 30,000 govies took our trainings. We knew based on the success we could help government create their own trainings so last Friday we launched the GovLoop Academy. GLA was inspired by knowledge services such as Khan Academy, Lynda, Treehouse, and Coursera, but GovLoop wanted to bring these types of platforms to government learning, which hadn’t been done before.
Q. What are your favorite courses?
Andrew: Our civic hackers in action course is one of my personal favorites. It’s a great blend because we are able to educate government on how civic hackers work and vice versa. But even more importantly, we help show how a relationship between the two can be beneficial on both sides.
Steve: Hands down my favorite is our human centered design course. I also led the training on public speaking, so I should probably make a plug for that one, although it’s always weird to hear your own voice!
Q. What makes a good virtual training?
Andrew: A well-crafted training starts with the learning objective. The learning objective not only sets the tone, but it also helps users understand what they will get out of the course. We recently did a project with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). We turned a two-day in person course into a seven-week online course. We had participants create and follow their own wiki throughout the course. It helped the training be more engaging and align to the learning objectives.
If you are doing one-off training keep it short and interactive. You also need to allow ample time for interactions and questions. Think about the training from an end user perspective. What do they want to get out of the course? Learn from your participants and adjust accordingly.
Steve: I would add you need great instructors. Moderators and subject matter experts that have high energy and are having fun will set the right tone for the training.
Andrew: Learning must be practical. It must be immediately applicable and available in real time. No one wants to sit through a training event that feels outdated or not relevant here and now.
Q. How did you run the Fourth Annual Government Innovators Virtual Summit?
Steve: It takes a village, and luckily we have one of the best teams in the business. Here’s a little look at the Summit by the numbers: there were 2,800 registered attendees. One keynote. Five fifty minute online trainings. Two career chats. An all day virtual booth crawl. More than 20 speakers and a networking lounge. All of those elements need a plan, implementation and execution.
In order to accomplish something of this size, you need a strong project manager. We have that in Amy DeWolf. Three months ago she laid out the project plan for the summit and over the past 12 weeks has systematically dolled out roles, responsibilities and tasks.
But what I think makes the big different for us, is we are always looking to improve. This is our fourth summit, and from feedback we learned attendees really want the experience to feel as close to an in-person event as possible. They even want bathroom breaks. So we took an extended lunch break to meet those needs. Our lessons learned doc is always evolving.
We also are always testing new features and formats. This time, our cyber training featured five lightning talks. Each talk was eight minutes. We also tried video chats for the first time and a leaderboard where attendees could track their progress in the summit against other attendees. We are always looking for elements that will set us apart.
Andrew: I would add that communication about this event was really critical. You can’t just throw a party and expect people to attend. We did a pretty aggressive email outreach strategy that was lead by the wonderful Christine Burke.
Q. How do you make it feel virtual training feel like a community?
Andrew: You need to think about how to connect people. We really encourage people to ask questions in the trainings themselves, but also in the booths and in the networking lounge.
This year we also tried to welcome people when they first entered the environment. Just like you would at an in-person event, we want to make the virtual space feel inviting.
Steve: Learning must be social. People want to learn from their peers. People want to feel connected and to know that others are undergoing a similar learning experience as theirs.
If you want to learn more about the launch of GovLoop Academy look no further!
Missed the live show? No fear, watch the on demand version here.