Innovation Means More, Better, Cost Effective Digital Training

A recent FedTech Magazine article asked, “When There Are No Barriers to Technology, How Can the Government Innovate?” We thought we’d take up the challenge and let you know how government uses innovations from digital communities to grow a social media education and training program that provides more opportunities than ever for agencies to share, learn and measurably improve our programs for citizens.

And by more we mean almost four times more with the same resources.

Many of you may already know DigitalGov University, the federal government program that aims to provide high quality, cost-effective training to thousands of federal employees each year in digital services and citizen engagement. What you may not know is now that technology and strategic advancements are ripping down silos between agencies, these education programs are experiencing a boom that allows more federal employees learn how to make their services measurably better and cost efficient.

Did you hear somewhere, though, that social media training opportunities for public servants is lacking? Let’s show you how government is changing all that through innovation.

Through the #SocialGov Community, more than 500 digital engagement program managers, directors and practitioners from more than 130 federal agencies are collaborating, sharing and improving knowledge management.

We’ve seen the results of this not only in how we evaluate programs and institutionalize customized best practices, but also in multi-agency initiatives like the first recommendations for Social Media Performance Metrics for government, and the first Social Media Accessibility initiative for improving these services for persons with disabilities, wounded warriors and the aging population.

You’re going to see more results of better education and knowledge-sharing in 2014 through upcoming Policy Development resources, programs to better support small businesses and entrepreneurs in partnership with the Small Business Administration, improved digital customer service methodologies, and groundbreaking steps into the Internet of Things.

What you won’t see more of are barriers between traditional realms of technology: social media is working with mobile development, user experience, and open data, who in turn work more seamlessly with each other too to create user-centric digital programs.

These programs are critical to many agencies, as often today the first line of experience between a citizen and public programs are through social media — the performance of these programs as a result must evolve and improve to meet this need.

Here’s how in 2014 agencies will rise to the challenge. Thanks to contributions of agencies across government and specialists across the private sector, contributions made possible by advancements in the technology and strategies we use, starting in February we aim to:

  • Hold more than 40 free online social media training webinars for any government employee, held on Wednesday each week. This is approximately 400% the social media webinars available in 2012, and almost 200% from 2013.
  • Hold more than a dozen free social media summits and workshops for any government employee, approximately once a month throughout the year. This is 200% the summits and workshops available in 2013.

Notably, while the volume of training opportunities increased in the last year, so has quality with a double-digit rise in customer satisfaction.

So to answer FedTech’s question of what’s one way the government can innovate as technology lessens as a barrier: in one year the federal government can double the free federal-wide training programs in digital engagement using the same resources. Better services with cost efficiency through innovative technologies isn’t just a goal for us — its an outcome.

These training opportunities through DigitalGov University, both online and in-person, allow skill and knowledge development for the widest scope of public servants, whether they telework half the week, work remotely, or need face-to-face engagement. This model ensures that federal employees modernize how they serve, so they can continue to meet mission needs and tap into their collective experiences.

It also ensures that agencies can receive direct access to the best ideas and strategy in government without needing to pay unnecessary conference and travel costs — tangible cost savings for government that are no accident, delivered to agencies by and from the source: other federal innovators.

What can this model mean for education and knowledge management programs across other mission areas? This is a discussion we want to have.

To get things started, next week we’ll announce the next free #SocialGov Summit on International Programs, featuring the State Department, USAID, Peace Corps, World Bank, Red Cross, Department of Defense and agencies across government — a world class lineup to discuss a world-wide mission. This Thursday, Katie Harbath from Facebook joins us via webinar to teach how agencies can combine digital and in-person engagement with Instameets.

If you are a federal innovator, platform that has federal terms of service, or a specialist with an idea to share, we invite you to email justin.herman@gsa.gov to discuss participating in a DigitalGov University webinar. Training and education is a top priority for us in 2014, and thanks to technology and innovators lowering barriers and smashing silos, we can achieve this mission for citizens better than ever.

If you have a .gov or .mil email address and would like to join the SocialGov Community, email justin.herman@gsa.gov with a description of your work in social media and “Subscribe to #SocialGov” in the subject line.

And remember, social media is just one of the many topics covered via DigitalGov University events. For questions, email us at digitalgovu@gsa.gov and sign up for email updates to get alerts on upcoming trainings.

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