Linking Agencies at OPM Leads to Increased 'Cross-Domain' Collaboration

Linking Agencies at OPM Leads to Increased 'Cross-Domain' Collaboration

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has a vibrant training and learning core based on a cross-domain communications model. For the agency’s work in federal agency collaboration and technology, it was named a top performer in the 2015 Learning! 100 awards program.

The cross-domain communications model is designed to allow a course or course content to be stored and maintained in one centralized domain location so that it can be directly accessed by multiple agency learning management systems (LMSs).

“Implementing the cross-domain communications model eliminates the need to distribute and configure copies of courses for various LMS configurations,” says OPM’s Will Peratino, director of innovation for Emerging Solutions. “And it eliminates all of the technical support staff hours associated with implementing the course in each agency’s LMS.

“Instead, the agency user signs into the agencies LMS, and when the course is selected, it is seamlessly launched and delivered to the user. The most important point is that the training event record is recorded via cross-domain communications back in the agency’s LMS of origination. As a result, the agency has a real-time accounting of all of the employees training that has occurred within the LMS environment.”

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Configuration management is also simpler, Peratino says, because as course content changes, the changes do not have to be sent out and implemented at each agency.

The previous model used a relational database architecture and unique file names for each unique course. To reuse that course for any other purpose meant reprogramming another unique instance.

Conversely, using an object-oriented database architecture to house very lowlevel granular knowledge objects such as animations, an explanation of a concept, graphics, audio files, PDFs and text content allows agencies to reuse the objects multiple times for different purposes and only have one occurrence of the object in the repository. These knowledge objects in the content repository can then be assembled to compose not only courses but best practices, FAQs, just in time training, job aids, references, refresher training, and different levels of support for different target audiences – which all are accessed and delivered dynamically to meet multiple real-time requirements that can be adapted to the needs of the learner.

Within the knowledge portal, content files are separated from the presentation layer, which can be a desktop computer, a website, a PDA device. “We don’t care, because we have a skin for each device that frames, structures and formats the content that’s dynamically populated from the knowledge object repository into that skin as it’s delivered to the user,” Peratino notes.

Another factor in OPM’s entry into the Learning! 100 competition was its HRU virtual university, for all HR specialties (HRU.gov). Instead of being a typical LMS, it’s an HR knowledge repository that’s object-oriented. Agencies open their CDC from their LMS environment. They sign on to their LMS, see the table of contents in the LMS, click on one and are linked to where course is delivered from. “The really cool thing is that finishing course, instead of writing the completion data at OPM, it writes it back in the LMS at the origination agency, which is what the agencies have wanted all along,” Peratino says.

US OPM is a four-time Learning! 100 winner.                                     Linking 3

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