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The Secret to Quality Virtual Training

We’ve all been there – government training that is hard to follow, as the instructor crams too much information into one session. These training sessions never seem to happen at the right time. Rather than fit our schedules, the lessons unfold when our workloads feel heaviest.

Unfortunately, these problems aren’t going away as more agencies work remotely. Information overload and low engagement are common to both in-person and virtual training. No matter where their employees work, agencies need to leave obstacles like these where they belong – in the past.

How might public-sector training look in the future? Meet microlearning. Microlearning uses short, simple online videos to quickly teach people about a topic. Typically lasting three minutes or less, these clips make viewers smarter, faster. With more agencies operating virtually, microlearning can make higher-quality learning more feasible.

Microlearning is already making a difference at some agencies. Since 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has benefited from microlearning through its SHOTs program. SHOTs – or Self-Help Online Tutorials – are videos available digitally 24 hours a day, every day. This availability means employees can learn what they need anytime, anywhere.

During a recent interview, Program Director Kelly Barrett – who is also a GovLoop Featured Contributor – explained how SHOTs are solving three training challenges for the IRS: information overload, scheduling conflicts and low engagement.

Like many agencies, the IRS initially had some training that packed years of expertise into one marathon session. Although well-intentioned, courses like these can exhaust and overwhelm employees with too much content.

At the IRS, SHOTs addressed this shortcoming with self-guided learning, which lets people research the topics that interest them at the pace that best suits their needs. For instance, employees curious about the IRS’s policy for working during severe weather can now watch a SHOTs video that quickly explains it. Online resources like these make the IRS’s policies more transparent and accessible while encouraging employees to examine them in the easiest way possible.

Scheduling is another area where SHOTs helped the IRS. Previously, the IRS frequently planned training that added to employees’ daily responsibilities. Rather than forcing everyone into class, the SHOTs program’s on-demand accessibility enables IRS employees to use downtime for digital learning. Even better, virtual tools can help agencies instruct staff wherever they’re working.

SHOTs are also increasing how engaged IRS staff are with their agency’s training. The secret? Compelling curriculums. SHOTs videos combine aural and visual learning for easy comprehension in short bursts. As a bonus, people are inspired to access instructional videos when the need arises, raising the chance they will turn insights into action.

Microlearning is an effective tool to elevate your agency’s competency, efficiency and productivity; it also boasts advantages that traditional in-person and e-learning classes don’t. The information is hyper-focused and easy to consume in one sitting, so employees have the exact information they need when they need it.

This article is from GovLoop Academy’s recent course, “GovLoop Examines: The Secret to Quality Virtual Training.” Access the full course here.

Photo credit: GovLoop Academy

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