Online Learning for Public Institutions

Online Learning for Public Institutions

K. Sullivan
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch193
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Three factors have accelerated the need for continuous learning for public administration employees: (1) improvements in information technologies that provide greater opportunities to gather, store, and transmit knowledge; (2) the increase in jobs required to produce and to manipulate knowledge; for example, the Canadian federal government estimates that 75% of its employees are knowledge workers; and (3) employee mobility is increasing, as shown by a yearly turnover of 40% of the U.S. workforce, or approximately 50 million employees. Therefore, continuous learning is becoming an important issue for employers and employees. In a survey of the 50 U.S. state governors on higher education issues, the most important issue was encouraging lifelong learning (Klor de Alva, 2000), leading to a need for learning management, where an organization controls internal and external knowledge as an important performance factor for both individuals and the organization. In the past, continuous organization learning in the public sector was associated with dedicated central learning centers. For example, the Canadian federal government’s education center for middle- and senior-level public servants, the Canada School for Public Service, had two large centers with classrooms and libraries, one with residential capacity. Most of the new knowledge obtained by public servants required large expenditures of capital and time in order to move employees and instructors away from their places of work to learn together in classrooms. Not only is this model expensive, but it also places a significant gap between learning a concept and being able to apply that concept to daily work. Online gives the learning manager a new tool that might be more cost effective (Langford & Seaborne, 2003). With the development of new information technologies, many leaders are questioning the place-bound synchronous classroom model as the best model for developing educational experiences. For example, U.S. governors’ next three important higher education issues after lifelong learning were (1) providing opportunities to obtain education anytime and anyplace via technology, (2) requiring postsecondary institutions to collaborate with business and industry in curriculum and program development, and (3) integrating on-the-job experience into academic programs (Klor de Alva, 2000). The new instructional model that is emerging delivers smaller units directly to the employee and very close to their work site or home; it is often called online education.

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