eLearning is more widely used than ever, and getting it right is mission critical for government organizations ranging from federal agencies to states, counties, and cities. There are two pillars of successful eLearning initiatives in government: security and effectiveness.
Federal departments and agencies, particularly those in high-consequence domains like our armed services, have extremely high standards for security and effectiveness, and they invest tremendous amounts of money and resources to meet those high standards. Some state governments adopt these federal standards or use them as a model, but resource availability to ensure the highest standards for security and effectiveness varies widely.
Local government organizations like counties, cities, and utility districts are often mandated to follow state standards, but they generally have tight budgets and therefore fewer resources for ensuring high security and effectiveness for their eLearning initiatives. eLearning technologies are maturing to the technical and cost-effectiveness level that means state and local governments can take advantage of advanced eLearning platforms and features to protect learning outcomes and security.
“High consequence” is an industry term that suggests any security breach could result in disastrous consequences for the organization. It’s clear that many federal entities like the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) operate in entirely high-consequence environments. When working with cloud service providers that handle data for these organizations, they adhere to high standards, including FedRAMP and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Impact Levels.
High consequence is not limited to matters of global security, however. For state and local entities, such as utility districts, a high-consequence eLearning environment may be a facilities training, from which a leak could enable malicious actors to attack critical infrastructure with cyber- or physical attacks. For example, many legal proceedings moved to virtual meeting environments during the COVID shutdowns of courthouses, including county courts. While not strictly an eLearning environment, these virtual meetings are a perfect example of high-consequence scenarios for cloud services deployed at the local government level.
Regardless of whether a particular state or local entity is required to adhere to high security standards such as state standards modeled on FedRAMP, these organizations should prioritize working with cloud service providers that are FedRAMP- and/or DISA-certified.
For many state and local entities, eLearning is a new proposition, begun in haste during a crisis. The consequences of breaches are not yet fully clear, and these organizations should proceed with an abundance of caution as their eLearning programs become more permanent.
In the private and government sectors, there has been concern for years that eLearning cannot perform to the same high standards as in-person learning and training. That concept has been debunked, and it has been proven that well-designed eLearning programs can be effective, adding layers of richness through multimedia elements and standardization. Engagement is essential; a more engaging session leads to higher participation and an increased level of training success and better outcomes. If it’s a topic worth conducting training for, it’s worth doing it effectively.
State and local government entities designing eLearning programs should work with service providers that can provide not just a technically reliable platform but also insight into and methodologies around keeping participants engaged. Whether it’s deserved or not, the subject matter of government training has a reputation for being complex and even tedious, but that doesn’t mean the training platform needs to be complex and tedious.
A service provider experienced in creating effective trainings will know how to incorporate elements like gamification, which is the best way to foster participant interaction through features like breakout rooms, smart whiteboards, multimedia tools, and livestreaming within the training environment.
The Importance of a High-Quality Service Provider
In addition to facing larger challenges around resources, state and particularly local governments are less likely to have the internal expertise in eLearning that large federal agencies more often do. Some states, like California, have streamlined the process of engaging cloud service providers; the California Department of Technology now vets and approves providers so its individual agencies can skip the cumbersome procurement process with requests for proposals (RFPs), selection, award, negotiations, and so on.
By partnering with an eLearning provider experienced in both the technical and the security challenges of developing eLearning programs and the best ways to use the rich features now available to optimize engagement, state and local governments face fewer barriers to benefiting from all eLearning has to offer.
Jim Seaman is Chief Revenue Officer for CoSo Cloud and is responsible for sales, channels, customer success, sales engineering, marketing, business development, and sales operations. Seaman has over 25 years of direct sales and executive sales management experience in both large public companies and high-growth venture-backed companies, selling to large enterprise and public sector agencies. With a strong background in cybersecurity solutions, he most recently came from Proofpoint, where he led major accounts, and before that held senior-level sales management positions at Akamai, Netezza/IBM, Sendmail, Control Data, and Nynex/Verizon.