ATD Blog

4 Steps to Smart Online Learning at Your Agency

Friday, May 15, 2015

Every agency has requirements for training and professional development. From keeping Baby Boomers at the top of their game to getting a new generation of federal employees up to speed, talent development leaders need to align training with the mission and objectives of their agencies.

However, most government agencies are at a crossroads. Learning and development (L&D) remains a critical need, but budgets continue to tighten. Consequently, a growing number of agencies are turning to a cost-effective, online learning environment to ensure training mandates are met while saving budget dollars.

Indeed, online learning is not only economical, but when used as part of a blended solution, it is proving to be more effective than traditional training.

Getting Started With Online Learning

Thoughtful planning and organization is the key to successfully meeting the goals of any learning programs—and online learning is no different. Blackboard’s new eBook, Smart Steps to Online Learning, details an eight-step approach to launching an effective online learning program. Here is a brief look at the first four steps.

  • STEP 1: Create a Business Plan. Not only do you need a solid rationale for implementing an online solution, you also need to do the math. Once you figure out whether the savings—realized in both soft and hard dollars—could offset costs, you’ll be ready to build your case.

  • STEP 2: Get Leadership Commitment. An online initiative is a significant undertaking that only can be accomplished with full support from leadership. Financial proof points, case studies, and best practices from other government agencies will help you demonstrate to leaders the possibilities online learning holds for your agency—and help you obtain their buy-in for launching the program.

  • STEP 3: Designate a Leader. Have one point person who takes ownership of the program. This does not have to be someone who is trained in software, but it does have to be someone who understands the value of learning and is committed for the long haul.

  • STEP 4: Convene a Committee. Be sure to include trainers, technical staff, and program leads. Additionally, gather input from staff, potential learners, and the people who will ultimately benefit from your program.

You can learn more about these key stages of launching online learning, as well as the additional four steps for maintaining a successful initiative in Blackboard’s eBook, Smart Steps to Online Learning . Learn how agencies are using online learning to standardize learning with replicable content and moving beyond the LMS to a more connected learning environment.

Also, if you’re attending ATD 2015 International Conference & EXPO, be sure to check our session with Dr. Fred Lang, former Chief Learning Officer, U.S. Department of Commerce, on Tues May 19 at 10:00 a.m., TU1GOV - Intergenerational Strategies for Developing Emerging Training Professionals in Government, to discover how to leverage the learning styles and preferences of new generations entering the workforce and capture the knowledge of those leaving it—online learning is likely to play a part.  And be sure to visit Blackboard at Booth 1015.  #ATD2015


About the Author

Paul Terry is general manager of Blackboard's Professional Education division, which focuses training and professional development for the adult learner. For more than 10 years, Terry has worked for Blackboard, where he has overseen market strategy, client management, product development, consulting services, and support.  He has a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School and a B.A. in economics from Boston College.

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