Government agencies face some of the most challenging training circumstances. They have to reach geographically dispersed employees and constituents with valuable training that is timely, consistent and accurate. Today, most government training leaders I talk to support using technology to distribute learning but face obstacles that prevent them from using alternatives to instructor-led, classroom style training. These obstacles may include funding, technology infrastructure or a culture that inhibits change.
We all know that state budgets are under constant pressure to be reduced. While investments in learning technologies and alternatives to instructor-led training can decrease training costs over time, they often require greater up-front investments. Too often, training leaders are encouraged to do what they did before for the same budget rather than propose an alternative that changes the equation.
For organizations to use learning technologies, they need the attention and guidance of their information technology staff. IT issues such as security, bandwidth and software need to be considered before you start developing a technology-based training approach. The good news is that a solid partnership between training and IT can always find a compatible approach.
While budget and IT can pose challenges, I believe culture and resistance to change raise the toughest barrier. When training leaders propose new approaches, they are often met with peers and managers who would rather follow what has been done before. Without support, most training leaders are forced to use traditional, instructor-led training.
In my experience, the government agencies that effectively use learning technologies have leaders who are not satisfied with the status quo. These leaders are not only in training positions but also in executive management and IT positions. They see the value in creating an environment that supports new ways to distribute learning. On our website, we feature examples from Pennsylvania’s Office of Public Safety Radio Services, the Sexual Offender Assessment Board (SOAB), the Women Infant and Children’s (WIC) program and the Pa Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). We have also worked extensively with the Pa Department of Environmental Protection developing web based training to help certify water and wastewater operators. These agencies overcame the budget, technology and cultural challenges to try new, innovative ways to deliver training. Training leaders connected with IT and management supporters to make it happen.