Developing a Learning Culture

Red, White and Blah: 5 Ways to Improve Government-Based eLearning

Depending on your political leanings, you could say that there are many things the government does well on an administrative basis. Unfortunately, eLearning isn’t really one of them. While branches from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Veterans Affairs have utilized eLearning programs in the past, they’ve been lackluster efforts. Text-heavy modules and quiz-based interaction have created a “Let’s get this over with” mentality for learners subjected to the DIY-style of government eLearning.

Therefore, we decided it was our civic duty to discover why government eLearning is so flat and offer ways improve programs: In graphics we trust.

1. Outsource the Job

The elephant (or donkey) in the room here is the fact that most – if not all – government eLearning programs are built and delivered in-house. Tight budgets often mean sloppy DIY jobs: Government workers themselves are the ones putting together training and development for their peers, regardless of past instructional design experience. Simply having the modules developed by a qualified designer can make all the difference in boosting interaction, improving retention and driving better response through a better-designed module.

2. Rewrite the Script

Government eLearning is traditionally extremely text-heavy, which means learners lose focus from the start. Getting rid of outdated verbal and text scripts in favor for something fresh, new and to-the-point can cut much of the fat out of the module. Learners absorb short bursts of training better and the actual training is much shorter, without any loss of information along the way.

3. Create a Message

Government eLearning is notorious for creating an apathetic learner – one who asks “So what?” and heads back to his desk once the training is finished. That’s why it’s vital to create a specific message for each module, reminding learners of the concept and reminding them exactly why the information is important. By dialing in on a specific message and clearly labeling the benefits of the training program, learners are more apt to seek those benefits for themselves by actually paying attention to the subject matter.

4. Upgrade Multimedia

Clipart no more: Experienced CLOs, L&D pros and instructional designers know the power of multimedia as a learning tool. From videos to podcasts, graphics to simulations, multimedia boosts learner engagement. Unfortunately, government programs often operate with the bare-bones multimedia tools expertise available to someone more comfortable in Word than designing an eLearning module. Ditching the basic graphics and adding other engaging multimedia makes for a more effective eLearning experience.

5. Challenge Learner Thinking

What good is eLearning if it doesn’t affect change in thought and behavior? It’s essentially wasted budget money. We understand that not all government-based eLearning can have bells and whistles, but it can offer time for each learner to reflect. Discussion questions and the opportunity to prove what they’ve learned give learners time to reflect on what they’ve absorbed, increasing program ROI through affecting real change.

Even the biggest organizations can fall short when it comes to training delivery without the right tools and expertise. While we might not have much power to affect how the U.S. government designs, implements and delivers eLearning, the real American dream is learning from the past to drive innovation for the future – whether you work for the government or not.