Learning — Aggressively

When Government Elearning! magazine asked C.L.O. Kristin Watkins why learning at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is so successful, here’s what she said:

1) What specifically about

When Government Elearning! magazine asked C.L.O. Kristin Watkins why learning at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is so successful, here’s what she said:

1) What specifically about the culture and needs at the Florida D.M.V. prompted an aggressive/innovative approach to learning?

For learners to travel to training, it could be as much as an 11-hour drive. When the state instituted strict travel restrictions, we had to come up with options that would reduce or eliminate the amount of travel. In addition, we have 24/7 shift work, so many of our employees were unable to attend regular daytime training classes, even if held by video- or Web-conferencing. We knew that we needed a more flexible system of providing training.

2) How does your organizational structure support innovation?

We have three sections within the Learning and Development Office, each with its own supervisors. What we found was that there was a lot of ‘handing off’ of training projects. The curriculum team would design a program and hand it off to the trainers. The trainers would teach it and then hand it off to the assessment team. The assessment team would evaluate the effectiveness of the program and then hand it off to management.

To combat the lack of ownership, we now work in project teams, with an expert from each area of the process. These teams of three to four people are in charge of a project from start to finish. The level of accountability and ownership has skyrocketed, and now people take pride in finding new approaches to problems they used to just hand off.

3) Innovating is sometimes rife with risk. How did you overcome any employee, staff or management skepticism with some of the innovative practices?

The biggest concern about launching new training initiatives was that they wouldn’t be as effective. The only way to overcome that issue is by providing high-quality, interactive modules that require the learner to use and apply and the knowledge. We put extra time and energy into the design process so that we had positive outcomes. In addition, we have focused on evaluation to have proof that what we’re doing is working. It’s hard to argue with facts, and the facts show that our employees are completing more training than ever, and that they are able to apply it.

4) How has the shift to online and blended learning been received by upper management? How has it been received by employees?

Upper management has been very supportive of online learning. They were the first to see the benefits of saving travel expenses as well as time away from regular duties.

Our employees wanted the old classroom environment they were used to. We have tried to combat this by making the training as engaging as possible. Although they would still like to come to a central classroom, most of them are very positive about the new system now, and admit that they are able to get more training than they would have using instructor-led training. Good technical support and quick troubleshooting has also helped win over employees.

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