Leveraging New Technologies for Employee Development Programs

Rapid advances in technology have transformed the workplace and changed the way we learn by impacting the interpersonal communication and collaboration. Many agencies have started implementing different technologies into their learning and development programs, using these tools to cut training costs, reduce carbon footprint, and increase continual learning outside the classroom. Below are examples of newer technologies that agencies have integrated into their employee development programs. Also listed are Web 2.0 tools, which allow learners to share knowledge and best practices in a wiki, blog, or discussion forum, and form networks through social network sites. Instead of just reading static material, users of Web 2.0 tools have the opportunity to create and modify content directly onto these pages.

Web-conferencing: 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 Network/ Community of Practice: An online group 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.

Podcast: 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.

Blog: website which allows an author to share opinions, reflections, and discuss topics in the form of online journals. 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.

Microblogs: 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 and Yammer.

Integrated Collaboration Environment 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, Zoho and Moodle.

People 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.

Wiki: 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.  Note: This website is a wiki, and can be edited by a number of people within OPM.

Social Bookmarks: a system allowing users to collect and store bookmarks online, tag with key words and share those bookmarks and tags 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, videos and/or other media for uses in (among others) presentations, learning materials and coursework. Users publish content to a larger audience. Instructors can record workshops and upload them to an online social network. Common media sharing tools are Flickr, Google+, and Youtube.

Virtual World: 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 worlds 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 Adobe Captivate, Adobe Flash, and Articulate.

Mobile Learning (M-learning): Mobile Learning focuses on learning across contexts and locations by the means of mobile devices (e.g. laptops, cell phones, personal digital assistants, MP3 players, smartphones, game devices, tablet PCs, and e-books). M-learning devices are used to access online courses and resources and can also foster collaboration among individuals, conduct assessments and evaluations, provide access to performance support, and capture evidence of a learning activity.



Checklist of Requirements for Federal Websites and Digital Services

Federal Government Tools and Resources

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

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), San Diego Healthcare System

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

The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI)

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)

The U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

The U.S. Department of Commerce – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The U.S. Department of Transportation – National Highway Institute (NHI)

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)

Intelligence Community, Intellipedia

Also Helpful:


Private Sector Tools and Resources



Helpful Tips

Hesitant to embrace these Web 2.0 technologies? Keep in mind, these tools can provide a wide range of benefits for your agency, such as: Clarity when building business cases, leadership support, and assistance to develop new training opportunities to support the needs of a changing generation.

You can also reference the following studies for more information: