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Training and Development Policy Wiki

Page History: Leveraging New Technologies for Employee Development Programs

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Page Revision: 2/15/2011 10:06:11 AM

Leveraging New Technologies for Employee Development Programs

Rapid advances in technology have transformed the workplace in recent years. Technology has changed the way we learn. The explosion of technology has impacted the way people communicate and collaborate. Common examples of different tools are wikis, blogs, social networks, webcasts, webconferencing, collaboration workspaces, online course libraries, and podcasts. Web 2.0 tools allow learners to share knowledge and best practices in a wiki, blog, or discussion forum, and form networks through a social network site. Users are able to create and modify content on the internet instead of just reading websites.

Some agencies have begun to implement different technologies into their learning and development programs. In terms of training, organizations are using these tools to cut training costs, reduce carbon footprint, and increase continual learning outside the classroom. Below are examples of agencies who have implemented newer technologies into their employee development programs. Also listed are types of tools, and additional resources.

Solve Problems

WIKI Weekly Tech Update: February 15, 2011

“The future of training and development is about connecting people.”

Twitter as a Training Tool

Twitter is a free social networking tool that keeps people connected with one another via status updates,or “tweets”, about what they are doing at a given moment. This ingenious concept fuses the appeal of blogging with the speed and convenience of texting,creating a networking platform that everyone wants to be part of. According to the Twitter Fact Sheet, Twitter is currently home to more than 106 million user accounts, who generate approximately 55 million tweets per day. The site’s growth is expanding by the minute, as it gains an additional 300,000 users per day.


With such growing popularity, learning professionals have become interested in harnessing this platform for use in training and development. Driving this interest is the fact that Millennials (those born after 1981) make up 22 percent of the workforce now, which will grow to 46 percent by the year 2020. Accordingly, the demographics of Twitter users is heavily weighted toward the 18-24 and 25-34 age ranges.

There are plenty of arguments for the use of Twitter as an innovative learning tool. First off, while email can be unreliable, Twitter allows content to be seen on a webpage from anywhere in the world. Also, by coordinating users to protect updates, Twitter can be used as a free learning environment, where content is only accessible to a specific group of people.

Also an interesting fact to consider: the human brain does not think in large logical "articles", instead it thinks of information in small chunks, of which they form the whole picture. Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per tweet is a perfect, digestible amount of information, so that individuals can get a chunk of knowledge at a time that is relevant to them.


Other uses for Twitter in training and learning:


Training – just-in-time tips, reminders, prompts

Learning –current thinking, current opinions, trends in a discipline

Reminders of upcoming training events and key learning content

Help for learning a new process or procedure

Links to articles of interest

Seminar/classroom discussion board

Team communications allowing employees a real time archive to

   identify how the team is progressing and issues they are

   encountering. They can also set up and install the twhirl

   application at their workstations so they can monitor what is going


Follow-up to webcasts: communicating and asking questions on

   conference calls or webcasts. Twitter also allows you to keep

   a record of all the questions and comments, in a manner similar to a

   blog post.

Online performance support tools.

New hire training where new hires are invited to webcasts or

   conference calls onrelevant issues they are dealing with on the job.

Twitter is participatory, collaborative and, at its heart, contextual. It may in fact be one of the best ways to instantly share knowledge among your network.

“Best Places to Work” use Twitter to build their brand

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, is an avid user of Twitter with 218,906 followers. Zappos made the list in Fortune Magazine’s annual “100 Best Companies To Work For” list, and Fortune began and ended the article by talking about how Zappos uses Twitter to build more personal connections with people. Zappos Corporate Employee directory actually has all employees ranked by the number of followers they have on Twitter. Now that’s an incentive to start sending tweets! Tony even created a beginners guide on how to get onto Twitter. You can find this at:

WIKI Weekly Tech Update                                                                                         

Facebook: Social Media Tool or LMS??


With reported daily participation from over 175 million users, who can compete with the global pervasiveness of Facebook? The easy-to-use interface, coupled with instant access to literally millions of individuals has created a catalyst for information-sharing in the 21st century; and it’s only going to grow.


Here are some statistics from Facebook's Press Room:


·         Facebook has more than 500 million active users

·         People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

·         There are over 900 million objects that people interact with
(pages, groups, events, and community pages)

·         More than 30 billion pieces of content (links, news stories, blog
posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month.

·         There are more than 70 translations available on the site.

·         People on Facebook install 20 million applications every day

·         There are more than 200 million active users currently
accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.

·         There are more than 200 mobile operators in 60 countries
working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products.

With such an impressive track record, everyone’s trying to take advantage of the great opportunities that Facebook has to offer, learning professionals included. It turns out that Facebook’s unique infrastructure contains an API (Application Programming Interface), which enables users to create dynamic content, similar to a website. Facebook’s API distinguishes it from other social media sites, and gives learning professionals the opportunity to create their very own LMS. Plenty of applications already exist to help facilitate this process including whiteboard apps, apps for streaming live video, and perhaps most notably Udutu.

"The myUdutu™" Online Course Authoring Tool is a FREE web-based tool which provides a user friendly platform to create highly interactive elearning courses quickly and easily."Udutu has recently developed an app specifically for Facebook, allowing individuals to create and upload eCourses and closely monitor the learning or training process.

Obviously, learning via Facebook is not appropriate in all situations, but it is undoubtedly a great tool that provides endless opportunities for training and development in a familiar web-based environment.


(What are some types of new technologies available to me?)


Web-conference: a method to allow instructors to conduct live meetings, trainings, and presentations via the Internet. Web-conferences allow participants opportunities to ask questions and participate in polls. Common examples of web-conferencing tools are Webex, Adobe Connect, Goto Meeting, and Live Meeting.

Social Networks/ Communities of Practice: online communities of people who develop friendships, find professional connections, share interests, and gather knowledge and information. These communities are formed online through social sites. Learning and development programs can utilize these networks to link course participants before and after a training event to share knowledge and ideas regarding the course. Instructors and participants provide links to articles, webinars, and on-the-job examples before, during, and after a training event.

Podcasts: a type of online media delivery allowing users to download files via a feed onto a computer and MP3 player. Podcasts allow learners to access trainings at different times depending on workload and availability. Instructors create course podcasts for learners to download and listen on their MP3 player, mobile phone, and laptop.

a website which allows users to share opinions, reflections, and discuss topics in the form of an online journal. Learning and development programs can incorporate blogs to provide supplemental course information and updates on course materials. Participants can discuss the course in this space.

: a popular tool to share knowledge and resources with one another. Instructors can incorporate microblogs to create a community around a course or an activity. Instructors also can post tips, assignments, and other information pertaining to the course. Course participants can summarize information learned during and after courses. Participants at conferences are using microblogs to informally exchange information learned from conference sessions. Common microblogs are Twitter, Tweetdeck, and Yammer.

Intergrated Collaboration Enivronment or Collaborative Workspace:
a virtual environment where teams may work on projects and share information. Project teams can access a shared workspace where they upload files and share them with one another. Common examples are Sharepoint, Google Apps, Google Docs, Google Wave, and Moodle.

Individuals may also establish shared spaces to learn from one another either formally or informally. For example, individuals from different agencies involved in training and development may create a workspace to share ideas, experiences, and resources to develop a supervisory training program.

Wikis: a website allowing users to create and edit content on any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser. This method is used in learning and development programs to promote collaborative learning and information sharing. Instructors and participants use wikis to create reading lists. Course participants use wikis to for team projects. Organizations use wikis to post internal processes, publish reference guides, and capture best practices.

Social Bookmarks
: a website allowing users to collect and store bookmarks online, tag with key words and share with others. This type of tool allows course instructors develop course reading lists. Course participants supplement course material by subscribing to a particular tag or keyword that relates to the course.

Media Sharing
: an online environment which allows users to search for photos and videos for uses in presentations, learning materials and coursework. Users publish photos and videos to a larger audience. Instructors can record workshops and upload them to an online social network. Common media sharing tools are Flickr, Google sites, and Youtube.

Virtual Worlds
: a simulated environment where users can interact with one another and create objects through an onscreen avatar. This type of environment allows course participants to attend live workshops and conferences in a virtual classroom or conference space. Participants are able to interact with each other in much the same way as attending a real workshop or conference. Course project teams can meet and collaborate in a virtual space. Organizations have developed courses using a virtual environment to conduct simulations of various situations including disaster preparedness or medical emergencies. Common virtual world software include Second Life, Protosphere, and Forterra.

Authoring Tools or Instructional Tools: software packages instructional designers use to create and package content to end users. Authoring tools are commonly used to create e-learning modules. They are written to conform to international standards such as Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). These tools allow for Common authoring tools are Abode Captivate, Adobe Flash, and Articulate.

Mobile Learning:
Learning that occurs across locations. There is not a fixed, predetermined location for learning to occur. Mobile learning's focus is on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices. Mobile learning devices are used to access online courses and resource. Examples of mobile devices that can support learning are a laptop, cell phone, personal digital assistant, MP3 player, smartphone, game device, tablet PC, and an e-book.

Mobile learning can do much more than course delivery. Mobile learning can also foster collaboration among individuals, conduct assessments and evaluations, provide access to performance support, and capture evidence of a learning activity.

How do I get my agency to embrace these technologies?


Although some agencies are embracing the Web 2.0 phenomenon, many agencies are hesitant to allow the use of these tools. Here are some things to consider if you would like your agency to allow the use of these tools:


  1. Build a business case
  2. Gain leadership support
  3. Try out these tools to see which ones would fit the needs of your learning and development programs
  4. Convince one or two agency leaders to try out these tools
  5. Get the Information Technology staff on board with allowing access to these tools
  6. Volunteer to assist with developing your agency’s policy on these new technologies
  7. Develop “how to use new technology tools” training

Stay Current

A few agencies have implemented newer technologies including Web 2.0 tools in their learning and development programs.

Department of Veteran’s Affairs, San Diego Healthcare System

Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), San Diego Healthcare System conducts emergency and disaster preparedness training in a virtual environment. Nurses’ log into a virtual environment and assume control of their avatar. Once in the environment, the nurses complete emergency and disaster preparedness drills. Here is an article on VA’s emergency and disaster preparedness training in a virtual environment -

Department of Justice, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
The Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) uses instant messaging (IM) to facilitate teamwork within their “Aspiring Leaders Program.” The program also conducts virtual workshops monthly using Adobe Connect.

Participants are located across the country and cannot meet in person. To facilitate teamwork among the participants, ATF uses a secure chat capability through their intranet and employees participate in web meetings via Adobe Connect. Participants chat one-on-one by using their IM system between training sessions. Participants can also log their team conversations so they can turn in archived discussions before the formal training session. At each monthly Adobe session, participants receive a short briefing on the leadership topic, followed by team reports and a wrap-up. Web conferences are available for recording. For further information please contact Bill Thimmesch, Program Manager, at 202-648-7293.

Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides live interactive webinars to their on-line self-paced supervisory course participants as supplements to their supervisory course series. Participants are able to post questions during the webinars and chat with one another.

Department of Transportation, National Highway Institute
The Department of Transportation, National Highway Institute (NHI) provides both self-paced Web-based training modules and interactive Web-conference training sessions to the transportation workforce. NHI’s Web-conference trainings follow similar scheduling procedures as their instructor led courses; however, these sessions are held online and hosted in the Federal Highway Administration’s Adobe Connect Pro application. Their self-paced Web-based training modules can be taken at any time, and participants can exit and return to the same place in each lesson throughout the training.


NHI Web site enables enrollment in and access to all of their Web-based offerings via a personalized “My Training” page and an integrated login system that allows participants to launch their courses with a single click. The My Training page also provides access to Certificates of Completion and unofficial transcripts based on the participant’s progress in each training module. The NHI Website, additionally, offers the opportunity to sign up for automatic, customizable email updates from the site and course catalog as well as the ability to view presentation tutorials and executive summaries of various freight courses. To learn more about NHI, go to the NHI website.

Intelligence Community, Intellipedia
Intellipedia is a collaborative data sharing wiki for the Intelligence Community. Intellipedia was created to share information on the more difficult challenges facing the intelligence community while incorporating cutting-edge technology into its workforce. The Intelligence Community uses the wiki to maintain and transfer knowledge on daily operations and events.


Intellipedia consists of three wikis and are classified by the level of clearance: Sensitive but Unclassified, Secret, and Top Secret. Employees with Sensitive but Unclassified can not access the Secret and Top Secret wikis. Intellipedia is not open to the public.

Social Security Administration
Social Securty Administration uses Eluminate Live - a communication tool combining integrated Voice over IP and teleconferencing, public and private chat, quizing and polling, emoticons, and a webcam tool. The software tool includes several visual tools including a whiteboard, application sharing, file transfer, and web tour. The tool also has a record feature which allows the moderator to record the class for others to view at a later date. To learn more about Ellumiate, go to

Find Opportunities              

(What training or other opportunities are available in this area?)



Common Craft
Short and simple videos covering subjects such as Twitter, Social Bookmarking, and wikis. These videos are in Plain English.


An online chat for people interested in the topic of learning. This chat takes place on Twitter every Thursday night from
8:30pm to 10:0pm EST. The “#” sign, known as a hastag enables one to search and participate during the discussion held once a week on Thursday nights. You can also use live-chat services such as TweetChat and TweetGrid or even seek out #lrnchat in Twitter search.

Discover Helpful Tips and Resources

(What other tools and resources are available to me?)

OPM does not endorse these resources. This listing is for informational purposes only—feel free to add references you have found useful.


Groundswell: Winning in a World transformed by Social Technologies
, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (2008). This book is based on practical data-driven strategies for organizations who want to leverage the power of social technologies. The book includes case studies, a complete roadmap for a social strategy, and data across the globe.

Grown up Digital,
by Don Tapscott (2009). This book provides an inside look at the Net Generation. The author surveyed more than 11,000 members of the Net Generation. His discovery was the Net Generation developed revolutionary new ways of thinking, interacting, working, and socializing.



Elluminate website:

Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies
Here is a website where one can find examples on how social media is used for formal and informal learning.

Innovative Learning
This website focuses on best practices for teaching and learning as well as technology integration. Social learning and mobile learning information are included in this website.


The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations
. (ASTD Research Study, 2010). This report makes a compelling business case for using social media technologies from a learner’s point of view. This exclusive perspective provides business leaders with insight for a new strategic priority: to leverage the power of social media tools in order to maximize learning and increase the performance of the entire workforce.

Blending Web 2.0 Technologies with Traditional Formal Learning: A Guide for CLOs and Training Managers
This white paper assists Chief Learning Officers and Training Managers to maximize the value of incorporating Web 2.0 technologies in formal learning programs.

Leveraging Social Networks & Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools in Enterprises. (
Cornerstone OnDemand and Human Capital Institute, 2009). This study reveals emerging practices as well as early indications of the value and challenges of using Web 2.0 tools for learning and talent management.

Web 2.0/Social Media Policies:

Guidelines for Secure Use of Social Media by Federal Departments and Agencies
Chief Information Council (2009). The Chief Information Council developed this document to assist agencies in developing their Social Media policies.

Department of Defense Social Media Policy
The Department of Defense (DoD) developed their social media policy. DoD’s policy encourages service members and DoD employees to use social media communicate with one another and with family and friends.

Web 2.0 Governance Policies and Best Practices
Here is a wiki which collects existing Web 2.0 policies and best practices from governments and leading corporations.

Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications
A memorandum from OMB requiring Federal agencies to take specific steps to protect individual privacy whenever third-party websites and applications are used to engage with the public.


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