Learning technologies: connecting the financial management workforce with the mission 24/7: the little red schoolhouse has morphed into a box, a screen, maybe a telephone, and a whole new way of transmitting knowledge.

Author:Anderson, Julia

"It is plain and simple: Training is a critical pillar of workforce development ... That is not new. However, today's training delivery methods have new options. The use of alternative delivery methods is critical for recruiting and retaining tomorrow's FM workforce."

Sandra A. Gregory, CDEV1 Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)

Consider the following scenario as an approach to improving professional development.

Jack is a new accountant at Agency X. This is his first job in the Federal Government. As soon as he learned he had been hired, he texted his parents and posted the news on his Facebook page. He then began searching online to find out more about his new employer and what to expect as a new federal employee.

After only a few weeks on the job, Jack is eager to learn as much as he can so he can show "the powers that be" that he has what it takes to move up in the agency. He is also wondering whether Agency X will support his ambitions for the future. His supervisor. Jill, suggests that he check out the agency website for training and performance support.

Jack enters the site for the first time. He creates a profile that describes his status and career goals. Jack then takes a self-assessment to determine his skill level. The system creates and stores a gap analysis a report on the divergence between his current competencies and his career goals.

Jack notices that he can customize a dashboard to give himself a view of the learning resources available to support him in his current job and in his career path. He has the option to view the following:

* His individual development plan

* Learning resources based on his competency gaps

* Comments from colleagues who have recently taken training

* A link to a learning-style assessment that will identify the training formats that will be most effective for him

* Blogs and online chats with subject matter experts and colleagues

* Links to wikis and other resources

Jack has many choices to obtain needed training. The training can be formal (such as a course, instructor-led or online) or informal (such as a blog by a subject matter expert). These choices give Jack flexibility in designing his development program. His options range from individual courses to learning modules to brief learning points. Training is available in a variety of formats: online self-or instructor-led (for example, classroom, synchronous virtual classroom, and virtual world), podcasts, online videos, webinars, and blended learning.

Jack uses a wizard to build his own development plan. He chooses a budgeting course recommended for accountants at his agency, a podcast series for new employees, and learning points in the form of short video clips (one of which answers his question, What is an improper payment?). He sends an alert to his supervisor and his contracting officer so they can review and approve his selections. Jill approves Jack's plan, and the contracting officer authorizes the training and approves payment online. Jack receives automatic notification when his plan is approved and payment is confirmed. He can now proceed with his learning.

Jack accesses the wiki-like library where peers and subject matter experts from his own agency have added comments and guidance. He opens up discussion threads on topics of interest to him and relevant to his job.

Jack has used a one-stop shop for all his professional development needs where he can get what he needs when he needs it--"just in time, just for me." He can connect with his peers and with more experienced workers who have succeeded in similar career paths at his agency. Since much of his learning is done online, he is also contributing to his agency's green initiative by reducing travel and materials costs. Essentially, he has access to a service that will support his learning throughout his career. With the support...

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