DEMONSTRATING THE NEED FOR E-LEARNING IN WORK ENVIRONMENTS: SHOWING HOW ON-LINE INSTRUCTION FOR THE PUBLIC WORKFORCE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Albany Rockefeller College (UNITED STATES)
Given the need for continuous learning in the public workplace to keep workers current, the demand for online instruction and training for public sector workers has accelerated. New tools tailored to e-learning development have proliferated, and course development has been made easier with advances in technology. Given these advances, when New York State turned to a university for support in addressing a critical need for training, the University at Albany’s Professional Development Program (PDP) at Rockefeller College responded with an e-learning approach to addressing the necessity for supervisory training for public sector workers in New York State.
Through a contract with the State of New York’s Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, PDP is responsible for providing training to over 60,000 public professional, technical, scientific, and administrative workers in New York State. Assessment has targeted a critical need for “just-in-time” training for hundreds of employees recently promoted to supervisory positions who have had little or no formal preparation for supervisory roles. A parallel need surfaced for refresher training for more than 15,000 experienced supervisors. Further analysis of the situation uncovered the challenge of creating educational programming not only to meet the volume demand but also to make the training relevant to both populations: new supervisors entering their first supervisory position and experienced supervisors needing only topical updating.
In the past traditional classroom training had been the solution---offered on a scheduled basis, which, if used as the solution to the current challenge, would require supervisors attending classes at a centralized location. Over time travel costs would become too prohibitive to sustain. Therefore, a solution using an asynchronous platform for three courses which would be developed and delivered in an e-learning format proved to be a viable solution: Supervising in a Unionized Environment, Attendance and Leave Benefits, and Performance Evaluations. This paper will provide an overview of the way in which each course was developed to meet the identified need of both novice and veteran supervisors. The paper will briefly describe the course development process and will feature examples of the e-learning courses, illustrating the way in which the courses meet outlined instructional criteria. Each course begins with an overview of basic topics and has stopping points for learners to review agency-specific information. Interactive activities and case studies are used with built-in testing to measure content gain. Learners will not be advanced without demonstrating subject matter mastery of the previous section.
To ensure that each course is relevant and that after completing each course, supervisors better understand the dynamics of working in a unionized environment and apply the principles learned to their work, Usability Testing (UT) will be integrated into the development process to uncover design flaws that could impede achieving the desired outcomes. UT is a quantitative metric-driven process for validating, monitoring and evaluating user satisfaction to ensure the quality of the e-learning experience and outcomes. UT has been found to be an effective in defining guidelines for format, graphic interface, content placement, and learner interaction. As applied to this situation, it is critical to ensuring the targeted learning needs are met.