2012 Biennial Performance Report 

Report on the Use of E-Learning

This report addresses Section 2054.055 (b)(8) of the Texas Government Code, which requires the Department of Information Resources (DIR) to provide a summary of the amount and use of Internet-based training conducted by each state agency and institution of higher education. 

Report findings are based on a targeted survey of all state agencies and universities as well as relevant industry research. The term “e-learning” refers to instructional content or learning experiences delivered, enabled, or enhanced by electronic technologies. The Report on the Use of E-Learning is presented in the following sections:



Background

Increasingly, Texas state agencies are relying on technology-based training solutions. Once a leading edge strategy, e-learning has become mainstream.

" "A large mobile workforce demands mobile training that can be delivered at time of need, and a generation of workers who have grown up with computers expect alternatives to classroom training.

Progress

Rapid technology advances coupled with the need for more just-in-time training have accelerated the adoption of e-learning. E-learning content varies from extensive, custom built learning libraries to millions of short YouTube videos. It also includes the technical systems that maintain the learner data and the interfaces that integrate this data into other agency systems.

Over the last biennium, Texas state agencies (including institutions of higher education) continue to incorporate technology-based learning options into their organizations. DIR surveyed state agencies about their e-learning practices for employee training as part of the 2011 Information Resources Deployment Review. The following table describes the percentage of agencies that have embraced each training delivery method.

Training Delivery Methods
(Percentage of Organizations by Training Delivery Method)

Delivery Method FY2010–11 (Actual) FY2012–13 (Planned)
Traditional Classroom 90% 91%
Computer-Based Training 65% 67%
Web Conferencing 68% 75%
Video Conferencing 43% 45%
Audio Conferencing 40% 42%
Computer Simulations 22% 25%
Podcasting 14% 18%
Mobile Applications 5% 31%
Correspondence (no tech) 6% 6%
Correspondence (no-tech) 6 6%

Note: The table identifies the current and planned delivery methods used by state agencies.

While instructor-led training remains the most commonly used delivery method, the continued growth of e-learning options provides more alternatives for how, when, and where employees complete training modules, often saving travel dollars. Additionally, it allows an organization choice so they can effectively allocate personnel for programs that benefit from traditional classroom training.

Using mobile application to provide training is an area of significant growth. According to the IRDR, agencies are planning to use mobile applications six times more in the coming biennium to deliver training, which tracks with increased use of smart phones and tablets in government. Web conferencing is another area of strong growth.

As organizations deploy more e learning platforms and capabilities, the use of live instructor-led delivery methods will correspondingly decrease, but not entirely.
Ultimately, in the coming years we expect to see a more balanced distribution between instructor-led and technology-based delivery methods, and a broader adoption of mobile and social learning technologies.

—American Society of Training and Development State of the Industry Report

Survey respondents identified the number of completions for each of the training delivery methods stated above. A “completion” is one employee completing one class. Tracking completions provides a more complete picture of the volume of state employees using each form of training.

Line chart showing percentages of Classroom Training vs. Technology-Enabled training each year from 2006 to 2011.  Classroom Training was the dominant training method used by state agencies in 2006 and 2007, making up 66 and 62% of the total training methods used, respectively. However, in 2008, there was a dramatic shift to making up only 38% of the total methods uses, with Technology-Enabled training making up the remaining 62%. In subsequent years, technology-enabled training has continued to be the most-used method, making up 61% in 2009, 60% in 2010, and the greatest percentage, 67%, in 2011.Traditional Classroom
vs. Technology-Enabled Methods
Training Completions, 2006–2011

Agencies reported approximately 2.3 million completions by delivery method Fiscal Year 2010-11, 67 percent of the completions were the result of a technology-based training method and 33 percent occurred in a traditional classroom setting. In the past five years the number of technology enabled completions has doubled while the number of classroom completions has been cut in half.

Collaboration and Sharing of Resources

Texas agencies informally share information and participate in various forums. In FY 2012, some of these efforts included:

  • Sharing information on e-learning initiatives during the State Agency Coordinating Committee (SACC) Training & Development Subcommittee meetings.
  • Inter-Agency Training Expo – an annual event where best practices on many training issues, including e-learning, are shared.
  • Texas state agencies taking a greater role in the Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA).
  • E-Learning Symposium – an annual conference hosted by the E-Learning Council and sponsored by DIR. This interactive annual conference is designed to help professionals and key decision makers learn how to execute e-learning programs within their own organizations.
  • Participating in user groups for authoring tools such as Lector and Articulate.

DIR was involved in many of the initiatives above and also worked with agency representatives and the vendor community to:

  • Include a host of technology-based training contracts through the Cooperative Contracts program. Products and services include:
    • development tools
    • web and video conferencing
    • staffing services to augment expertise needed for development projects
    • subscription-based on-line training courses
    • webinar and virtual meeting tools
  • Facilitate opportunities for agencies to share expertise by:
    • hosting an email discussion list of 500+ government staff involved in training
    • providing a staff member to serve on the advisory board of the E-Learning Council
    • participating in the SACC Training and Development subcommittee
    • promoting e-learning topics at IT conferences such as GTC, InnoTech, TASSCC, and other programs
    • sponsoring the e-learning Symposium and arranging discounts and scholarships for Texas state government attendees

Agency Accomplishments

Most Texas agencies now use some form of e-learning, including free courses offered by others, fee-based subscription training libraries, custom applications, or other methods such as videos and webinars. In addition to employee training, many organizations are also deploying technology-enabled learning solutions to external constituents as part of their outreach initiatives. Below are just a few examples of current e-learning solutions in Texas agencies.

  • The State Office of Risk Management (SORM) provides a variety of online educational videos covering health, safety, and risk management topics. These e-learning sessions teach Texas state agencies how to protect their employees, the public, and the state's physical and financial assets by reducing and controlling risk.
  • The Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities facilitated the development of 23 online tutorials for creating accessible Microsoft 2010 Office documents. The modules are available at no cost. They were created by over 40 individuals from various state agencies who are committed to accessible communication and represent almost a year of collaborative work.
  • The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts deployed several stand-alone online courses for users of the state accounting systems. Employees from any agency can take these one to two hour courses at their own convenience.
  • The Texas Department of Information Resources now offers approximately half of its technology briefings via webinar.
  • The Texas Workforce Commission facilitated the development of an interface between its e-learning authoring tool, Soft Chalk, and its PeopleSoft Learning Content Management System (LCMS) to synchronize course completion data. This provides efficiencies by freeing 3500 employees from duplicating data entry. The project was completed at no cost to the state, reduces risk of employees showing as non-compliant on required training, and is available to other agencies that also use PeopleSoft.
  • The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center serves Texas through community-based education. Like many outreach organizations, it has its own YouTube video channel which features a variety of educational topics, including the popular Dinner Tonight videos which feature quick and healthy dinner ideas to promote healthy lifestyles and wellness.

Challenges and Opportunities

State agencies are individually making progress in employing technology-based training solutions. However, many challenges still exist, particularly for small and medium agencies that lack the resources to create e-learning programs.

Challenges

  • There is neither a central authority coordinating e-learning projects across the state nor a central repository of sources. Each agency must pioneer its own solutions or seek informal networks to share resources.
  • With mobile apps debuting daily and educational videos posted by the thousands, learners increasingly expect training materials to be available now and at no cost. However, government entities have barriers to the rapid release of training materials. Some agencies restrict access to social media sites such as YouTube which can be an inexpensive source of training materials and tools.  Accessibility, security, and policy issues can slow the process. 
  • The proliferation of mobile devices brings the expectation that e-learning will be available for any/every device.
  • Many users fail to use or, if started, to complete online courses unless there is a compliance requirement or a clear directive from management.
  • To develop well-designed, effective e-learning programs, organizations need to invest in the appropriate professionals, skills, and tools.

The State Office of Risk Management (SORM) and the City of Houston offer a free Active Shooter Emergency Preparedness educational video available on YouTube. SORM's video has been widely acclaimed and used by the Office of the Texas Attorney General, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Homeland Security. Many state employees cannot view resources like these training videos because agencies restricts access to YouTube where training videos can be accessed efficiently and at no cost to the state.

Opportunities

While Texas continues to face challenges, the state can benefit from the following opportunities:

  • The costs of many authoring tools, video equipment, file storage, and bandwidth have decreased.
  • People are globally connected and have many avenues for collaboration.
  • The consumption of information technology has brought with it a population that is accustomed to technology.
  • Many e-learning resources and existing materials libraries are available.
  • Since e-learning can be modularized, and often re-used, it can be very cost effective.