Mar 25, 2015

Last week I was fortunate to attend a BLACKBOARD’s Federal Strategies Workshop under a headline “Developing Emerging Training Professionals”. Overall, this was a meaningful and useful event, with several bright stars from federal learning community in attendance (Angela Bailey of OPM, Randy Bergquist of DOJ, and Ben Ficks of NRC) sharing their perspectives on the topic and lessons learned from their respective agency’s efforts. The proceedings were expertly moderated by a colleague of mine Dr. Fred Lang who established and for several years chaired the Interagency Chief Learning Officer Council (Blackboard, you could not have picked a better person to lead this discussion!).

The plight of managing a multi-generational workforce and addressing development needs of training professionals was clearly in focus. However, what caught my attention was a recurring theme of transforming a training culture into a learning culture and associated tools and methodologies to inspire a culture of learning. From Human Centered Design adopted by the OPM and its Innovation Lab to NRC’s Learning Transformation Initiative, the message was clear: high on government’s agenda is to promote an environment that fosters continuous learning centered around an individual, “self-directed exploration and discovery where changes in skills, knowledge and application occur” (as noted by Randy Bergquist), and individual developmental goals.

Another key takeaway for me was tying learning to performance and accomplishments on the job and business outcomes. Learning needs to be looked at as long-term investment vs. simply a line item in a training budget. It needs to be closely aligned with an agency’s mission and strategic planning.

Some of learning strategies mentioned during the workshop included coaching, mentoring, job rotation, self-development, action learning, and e-learning. Learning tools include access to social media, YouTube posts, blogs, etc.

Again, I found it to be a very useful event. And I look forward to my continuing self-development this summer at the next event in this series!

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