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
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.