Agencies tap Fed Learn's online training

The demand for technology-based education is so rampant that the Federal

Technology Service launched a contractual services program to help agencies

sort through the multitude of offerings.

"What we're providing really is a cradle-to-grave, one-stop shop for

e-learning and knowledge management," explained Marc Santini, program director

for Fed Learn, short for the Federal Technology Learning Program.

Fed Learn was created last August and has been the key to helping several

major agencies contract for World Wide Web-based, intranet, and CD-based

and distance-learning solutions. Agencies using Fed Learn services include

the Air Force, the Army, the Marine Corps and the Labor and Education departments.

Fed Learn also supports technologies such as courseware management and delivery

systems, student management systems and training registration systems.

Santini emphasized that the program is not an e-university offering

scheduled courses. "When agencies come to us, we'll go over their requirements,

discuss their options, develop a statement of work, do the contract management...the

legal support. We're here to help," he said.

At least half of all public-sector organizations will turn to Web-based

instruction within the next three years, estimated Brandon Hall, who is

lead researcher at brandon-hall.com, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based organization

that researches and analyzes the e-learning market. "Employees have to learn

new stuff faster because of the new economy and because of the use of technology.

These technologies provide for very efficient training."

The benefits of e-learning are compelling: huge cost- and time-savings

on employee travel, the ability to more rapidly- and consistently train

a widely dispersed work force, and opportunities for employees to learn

at their own speed, anytime and anywhere.

"It's as good as a classroom, the courses cost half as much and the

administrative overhead is extremely low," said Peter Yeager, a training

officer for the IT Services Division at the Library of Congress, which is

offering courses to employees through DigitalThink, a Vienna, Va.-based

firm that provides online training. "What's not to like?" he asked.

Santini noted that e-learning technologies are evolving, which is one

reason why Fed Learn does not offer an umbrella contract like many FTS programs.

Instead, Fed Learn officials will pick and choose from existing procurement

vehicles.

Ultimately, Fed Learn will even develop a Web-based portal that offers

agencies a centralized repository of information on new technologies, implementation

issues and lessons learned.

—Hayes is a freelance writer based in Stuarts Draft, Va.

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