Learning, training and ongoing Continuous Professional Development (CPD) are essential. The need to learn and to keep professional knowledge current hasn’t gone away during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
With social distancing measures in place, face to face learning can’t happen at the present time - and may not for some time yet. And so online learning and virtual delivery is growing in popularity as many people look for ways to ensure their skills and any professional or legal accreditations remain current. With some staff not currently having to travel, they may have more time for learning. Which is where my team comes in.
Understanding the need and the options
The main challenge we find in providing colleagues working in digital services with online learning opportunities is not specific to the COVID-19 situation, rather it’s because some of the digital ‘disciplines’ are so new that there are very few suppliers that provide training for these.
We are addressing this by working to secure the services of suppliers that suit the new disciplines, and also by linking in with the X-Government Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) Capability Network to see what other government departments are doing and trying to learn from them.
Being flexible brings benefits
In Digital Data and Technology Services (DDTS) we haven’t moved to a completely online learning offer as there are some workshops that do need interaction. However, our suppliers have changed their mode of delivery for many of their courses to deliver them virtually with a live trainer leading a dispersed audience, which suits us as we are a dispersed workforce anyway.
We’ve built flexibility into our supplier contracts too, and we’re leveraging the benefits of our enterprise agreements with organisations such as Microsoft to access lots of 'free' e-learning and courses which are delivered virtually.
We are learning too!
We try to go from ‘need’ to ‘solution’, and not the other way round. So, while we’re still delivering any urgent needs right now, we’re also collating learning requirements for scoping, designing and, if necessary, for delivering from June onwards. We will also soon be delivering webinars on relevant topics across DDTS.
We engage with all our functions and teams across DDTS to gauge their learning requirements. Our services not only include training, but learning through a wide range of ways: webinars, on-line documents, e-learning, video learning, virtual classrooms, knowledge-share, mentoring, professional memberships, conferences etc.
Top tips to get the best from online learning
We’ve also developed a few tips to encourage colleagues to take up online learning activities. We know that some people prefer learning online, but for those who don’t we encourage them to try the virtual classrooms, for example through interactive delivery through video conferencing.
For those going for ‘self-directive’ learning, it’s best to do a range of things:
- plan chunks of time for learning
- plan discussion times with others/mentors
- make sure you’re disciplined and stick to your plan, aiming for an end date that is manageable. If you slip – re-plan and head towards that end date
- apply what you learn, if you can, as you go along. – 'teach' or share with someone else as you learn things
Remember the ‘70:20:10’ rule
We know from discussions with colleagues that there are many who are doing all sorts of learning during lockdown, and really benefiting too. For everyone, though, it’s always about remembering the 70:20:10 rule - 70% of what is learned is by doing 20% through social learning, and 10% is from formal training. We have many strong practitioners within DDTS from whom we can learn, as well as learning from doing our jobs!
Find out more about what we do in Defra Digital and how you can get involved with ‘On Air, Online’ – Learning at Work Week.