Cybersecurity in the Upcoming 2020 Elections

As the 2020 presidential election draws near, state and local government agencies are making preparations to counter present and future cybersecurity dangers that threaten to undermine our nation’s election process.

Last year, state and local governments suffered 162 ransomware incidents, and these attacks show no signs of letting up, even amid the global health crisis. 

To bolster the nation’s overall safety, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has generated and released its plan for protecting not only the infrastructure of this year’s election but also the infrastructure utilized by campaigns and political parties. 

From disinformation campaigns to phishing attacks, CISA aims to identify and mitigate any security issues that might compromise the integrity of this election year. Some notable points from CISA’s plan include: 

  • Creating public awareness campaigns that discuss cybersecurity threats. 
  • Providing local and state cybersecurity officials, as well as private companies that provide voting equipment, with additional information about security threats. 
  • At the local level, helping to develop incident response and crisis communication plans. 
  • Offering services such as physical security assessments, remote penetration testing, and vulnerability scanning, among others. 
  • Conducting voluntary security assessments.
  • Working with private firms and briefing staffers about the best practices to follow regarding campaigns.
  • Providing the public and elected officials with information concerning foreign influence campaigns. 

Although these measures are being taken, CISA Director Christopher Krebs stated that much of the responsibility of securing the voting infrastructure will fall to the state and local government agencies.

Below you’ll find a list of enacted and pending bills relating to cybersecurity that have been made at the state level. 

State-Level Cybersecurity Bills: Enacted

  1. Alabama | AL S 54 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 98: Insurers and other entities licensed by the Department of Insurance must develop, implement, and maintain an information security program. It also provides for reporting to the Commissioner of Insurance, the confidentiality of provided information, and for civil penalties under certain conditions.
  2. California | CA A 74 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 23: Makes appropriations for the support of state government for the fiscal year and provides that activities performed by the office shall be designed to minimize overlap. It also works in coordination with statewide cybersecurity efforts. 
  3. Florida | FL H 5301 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 2019-118: Requires the designation of a state chief information security officer and creates the Florida Cybersecurity Task Force.    
  4. Florida | FL S 2500 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 115: Makes appropriations, including funds to county supervisors of elections for cybersecurity initiatives. 
  5. Georgia | GA H 30 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 3: Appropriates funds to the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center to enhance cybersecurity technology for private and public industries through unique education, training, research, and practical applications.
  6. Georgia | GA H 31 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 319: Appropriates funds for cybersecurity training and cybersecurity initiatives in schools.
  7. Iowa | IA H 692 – Status: Enacted: Provides for penalties for using voter registration information, including resale or redistribution of the voter registration list without written permission of the state registrar, for purposes other than those permitted.
  8. Louisiana | LA H 74 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 292: Creates the crime of trespass against state computers, provides for elements of the crime, and also provides for criminal penalties.
  9. Mississippi | MS S 2831 – Status: Enacted: Establishes the Insurance Data Security Law and provides the purpose and intent of the act. It also defines certain terms within the act, requiring insurance licenses in the state to develop, implement, and maintain an information security program. The bill further requires certain notification, investigation, and confidentiality in a cybersecurity event.
  10. Montana | MT H.B. 2 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 483: This bill appropriates money to various state agencies for the upcoming biennium, including funding for many relevant cybersecurity programs and technologies, including next-generation antivirus software, cybersecurity staff, cybersecurity student programs, and many more. The State Information Technology Services Division will report to the legislative finance committee quarterly on the Montana Cybersecurity Enhancement Project.
  11. North Dakota | ND S 2110 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 468: Expands the powers and duties of the Information Technology Department to oversee cybersecurity strategy for all executive branch state agencies. This includes institutions under the control of the State Board of Higher Education, counties, cities, school districts, or other political subdivisions.
  12. Nebraska | S.B. 123 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 546: This bill enacts provisions governing the security and integrity of elections, requiring an annual training class on cybersecurity for those who administer elections. Any records of the Secretary of State or county or city clerk related to election information are confidential and not public records. They may be disclosed only under limited circumstances. 
  13. New Jersey | NJ S 2297 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 213: Revises provisions relating to the State Blockchain Initiative Task Force. 
  14. Nevada | NV S 69 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 392: Revises provisions relating to emergencies and cybersecurity.
  15. Nevada | NV S 123 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 546: Revises provisions relating to elections.
  16. Ohio | OH H 166 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 10: This bill provides funding for cybersecurity initiatives, including the establishment of a cyber range. The cyber range will: (1) provide cyber training and education to K-12 students, higher education students, Ohio National Guardsmen, federal employees, and state and local government employees, and (2) provide for emergency preparedness exercises and training for cybersecurity.
  17. Oklahoma | OK S 261 – Status: Enacted, Chap. 163: Relates to the security of election materials, coercion, and election emergencies. The bill also authorizes post-election audits for certain purposes, provides procedures, and specifies the duties of the Secretary of State Election Board and the Secretary of County Election Board. It also specifies requirements relating to office space and arrangements for county election boards while prohibiting the providing of false or misleading information to prevent registration or voting.
  18. Virginia | VA H 5001a – Status: Enacted, Chap. 1: Revises the budget bill; makes appropriations to various state agencies and programs, including cybersecurity programs.
  19. West Virginia | WV H 2452 – Status: Enacted, Act 123: Creates the West Virginia cybersecurity office and removes the requirements of the Chief Technology Officer to oversee the security of government information. Also created the Cybersecurity office  and provides that the Chief Information Security Officer oversees said office and is authorized to create a cybersecurity framework to assist and provide guidance to agencies in cyber risk strategy.

State Level Cybersecurity Bills: Pending

  1. Georgia | GA S 21 – Status: Pending – Carryover: Will require each local board of education to prescribe mandatory instruction concerning cybersecurity every year in every grade, from kindergarten through grade 12. It will also require the State Board of Education to prescribe a minimum course of study in cybersecurity, providing for duties of the State School Superintendent. 
  2. Illinois | IL H 2829 – Status: Pending: Will create the Financial Institution Cybersecurity Act. The bill provides that persons and entities operating under the authority of the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation under the Banking Act, the Insurance Code, the Savings Bank Act, the Credit Union Act, the Corporate Fiduciary Act, and the Residential Mortgage License Act must maintain a cybersecurity program to protect the confidentiality of their information system.
  3. Illinois | IL H 3017 – Status: Pending: Will create the Veterans Cyber Academy Pilot Program Act and provides that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs shall establish and implement a pilot program to provide veterans residing in the state with access to cyber security training, certification, apprenticeships, and additional resources to enter the cyber security field of work. The pilot program shall run from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2023. The bill also provides specific requirements to the department in implementing the pilot program.
  4. Michigan | MI H 4348 – Status: Pending: This bill provides executive recommendations for an omnibus bill, including funding for improvement of the state’s cybersecurity framework.
  5. Minnesota | MN H 17 – Status: Pending – Carryover: Appropriates money from the Help America Vote Act account for certain authorized purposes and provides for the purposes of modernizing, securing, and updating the statewide voter registration system and for cybersecurity upgrades as authorized by federal law.

Needless to say, states and their local government agencies are going to be making a considerable effort to keep this election year secure and free of external interference. 

The federal government has made notable progress towards improved cybersecurity with the founding of CISA and other agencies, but much of our digital safety is still in the hands of local government organizations like yours. 

Staying Ahead of the Curve with Cybersecurity

With these new laws turning cybersecurity training into a requirement, it’s important that your organization be outfitted with courses that don’t just meet the educational standards but are also convenient and easily accessible to your employees. 

Since everyone is still working from home, getting your people into the office for training isn’t an option for most employers, which is one of the reasons that our online training solutions are ideal.

We offer current and on-demand courses dedicated to Cyber Security, which you can consume on your schedule.

As an ETS Learner, you also receive access to over 60 state and national affiliations and accreditations courses, the completion certificates, and the option to print course materials when needed.

Let’s all do our part in keeping our organizations, our people, and our elections safe from cyberthreats. 

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Adapting Your Workplace to the COVID-19 Outbreak

In our previous article, Preparing the Workplace for the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we explained what the novel coronavirus is, the danger it poses, and some steps local government employers could take to prevent COVID-19 infections in their workplace. 

Since then, the pandemic landscape in the USA has shifted significantly. 

The purpose of this article is two-fold: 

  1. To give you an overview of some of the notable regulatory changes that have occurred in response to COVID-19.
  2. To provide valuable tips for your local government on how to respond to potential disruptions in day-to-day operations/services that could occur, given that more cases of COVID-19 are expected to arrive.

State and Local Government Responses to COVID-19

It’s said that 3/4ths of Americans are now living in lockdown with 38 states having issued stay at home orders. 

Over 425 executive actions have been issued in 50 states and American territories, these actions including but not limited to declarations of state emergencies, school closures, and retail and business closures. A few notable actions have been listed below: 

California

  • Executive Order No. N-35-20 — “…Allows local governments more flexibility to utilize the skills of retired employees and reinforces the importance of the delivery of food, medicine, and emergency supplies.”
  • Executive Order N25-20 — “…The order allows local or state legislative bodies to hold meetings via teleconference and to make meetings accessible electronically. The order allows local and state emergency administrators to act quickly to protect public health.”

Louisiana

  • COVID-19 Task Force — “Governor John Bel Edwards (D) has established a COVID-19 task force. The taskforce will lead the state’s planning for different scenarios relating to the spread of coronavirus, offer guidance to the Governor’s Office and the Unified Command Group, and to agencies, local governments, businesses, and organizations.” 

Indiana

  • Executive Order 20-09 — “…Governor Eric Holcomb (R) has issued an order relating to government body meetings, government purchasing, and continuity of government.” 

Nevada

  • Executive Order 006 — “Governor Steve Sisolak (D) issued an order allowing virtual meetings for government bodies.”

Puerto Rico

  • Legislative Action RCC 659 — “Allocates $500,000,000 to various government agencies to finance a portion of the first phase of the Strategic Plan to Reactivate Our Economy, Support Our Merchants, and Protect Our Workers, in response to the emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

How Your Local Government Can Respond as Employers

As mentioned in our previous article, the ways in which your local government agency can mitigate health risks to your employees are numerous. 

Some of the more standard strategies involve encouraging sick employees to stay home, upholding hygienic practices in the workplace, and taking advantage of teleworking options. 

Below are some additional considerations that were brought up both by OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and King County’s coronavirus pandemic guide for businesses and organizations

Social-Distancing

The majority of Americans are already practicing social-distancing in public, but there are other ways in which the practice can translate into the workplace beyond maintaining a minimum of 6-feet between yourself and others. 

As an employer, you can take measures to allow telecommuting wherever possible. However, not every individual has the necessary tools for remote work, so taking steps to ensure the availability of the relevant tech and infrastructure for telecommuting could go a long way. 

Depending on the structure of your organization, it may be worth permitting staggered shifts as another method of reducing person-to-person interaction. 

Prepare for Absenteeism 

Local government organizations should anticipate employee absences. These absences may result from an employee getting sick, having to care for a sick family member, or having to watch over children now that many have been dismissed from schools and daycare centers. 

Some employees may have family members who are immunocompromised and thus prefer to stay home lest they bring the disease back from work, while others still may remain home for fear of possible exposure to the virus. 

The loss of an employee who performs an essential function in your organization could bottleneck your day-to-day operations, so to prepare for this possibility, consider cross-training employees to perform these essential roles.

Keep your Workforce Educated on Treatment and Prevention

We shared some advice on this subject in our previous post, but its importance warrants reiteration. 

Your local government organization should be actively encouraging disease prevention behavior such as hand washing, sanitizing surfaces, avoiding the touching of the face, and staying home if feeling sick. 

Establishing Communication Protocol

During this period, it’s more important than ever to uphold high standards of communication in your workforce. 

A failure in communication could become the catalyst for breakdowns within your organization, the growth of false rumors, and even disintegration of trust and morale between team members.  

As an employer, it might be worth asking: 

  • How can you increase awareness of and support employees that are currently experiencing anxiety and fear during this health crisis?
  • What part can you play in the prevention of false rumors and misinformation circulating in your local government organization?
  • What can you and your leadership team do to keep your employees adequately informed regarding the latest health updates about the outbreak?

As a local government organization, it’s vital that you feel capable of handling this crisis to maintain the greater health and welfare of your local communities. We hope that the implementation of these provided strategies will bring you one step closer to that goal.

Adjusting to New Work Circumstances

The modern workplace has been shifting in significant ways for the better part of a decade due to innovations in technology, among other things. 

The current health crisis caused by COVID-19 has accelerated the pace at which organizations of all shapes and sizes have had to adapt to said innovations. 

If your local government agency has been struggling with the transition to remote work, we can assist you with our suite of cost-effective packages

Whether you’re working remotely for the first time or want to operate more efficiently in your current virtual workplace environment, our courses provide everything you need to thrive so that your agency can come out of this crisis in better shape than when it arrived.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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Meeting the Rising Demand for Data Science Professionals

 

If anything new has become apparent in the 21st century, it’s that data is eating the world at a faster pace than ever before. It’s estimated that internet users generate approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day, and that number is constantly rising. 

Projections suggest that by 2020, there will be 40 trillion gigabytes of data in existence. To provide even greater perspective, a 2017 study showed that 90% of all data present in the world today was generated only in the past 2 years. 

However, this data is unless there’s someone who can make sense of it. 

Companies are beginning to utilize big data to help make more calculated business decisions, and those who fail to do so may inevitably struggle to keep up with the modern age. 

This is why organizations all over the world are scrambling to fill their data science positions, a task that is uniquely difficult given the myriad of skills needed for an individual to fulfill the responsibilities of the role, such as: 

  • Python coding
  • Advanced statistics
  • Proficiency with the Hadoop Platform
  • SQL Database/Coding
  • Apache Spark
  • Machine learning and AI
  • Data visualization

And given the fact that data science as a field is still in its infancy, that list of needed skills will only continue to grow in size. 

Why Local Governments Need Data Scientists 

Big data is used for a multitude of tasks, from predicting hurricanes for pre-emptive evacuation to giving you appropriate recommendations on your Netflix feed. 

For local governments, big data can be used for making a variety of data-backed decisions that can help reduce traffic congestion, lower crime, improve the environment, and of course, make intelligent budgeting choices. 

Dubuque, Iowa, a city with a population of 58,000, took advantage of big data as early as 2009 during an effort that increased the city’s revenue by $18,000

Their local government managed to accomplish this by teaming with IBM to improve sustainability efforts by installing smart water meters in homes. 

It took time to gather the relevant data, but over time, they were able to learn how their homeowners used water.

They were able to find ways to make water usage more efficient in ways that would have been impossible without big data. 

This kind of impact isn’t limited to Dubuque, Iowa. Local and big governments around the world are making the choice to create a foundation for intelligent decision making via their investment in big data and data scientists. 

Can Organizations Fill the Need for Data Scientists?

Although the benefits of big data are plenty, local governments won’t be getting any of them unless they acquire people equipped with the skills and experience needed to analyze and understand the data. 

It’s become more and more apparent that a career in data science is becoming increasingly promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that there will be nearly 30% growth in the field of data science in the coming years.

The result of this projected growth means the creation of nearly 50,000 jobs in the field of data science, most of these jobs filling the needs of private and government organizations. 

The incentives for individuals to develop the skills for data science are not exactly lacking, either. According to Glassdoor, “data scientist” is the highest-paying entry-level job within the USA, the median base salary starting at $95,000.

Although there’s projected growth in this field, many organizations are still in great need of talent today. And for many local governments and businesses, their need for data scientists is simply too great to wait any longer. 

For this reason, many organizations are turning to in-house training to develop their own talent. Doing this is often difficult and time-consuming unless a third-party is brought in to assist with the training, which in itself may end up hurting their budget. 

Individuals within their organizations can go back to school to acquire the relevant skills, but school is more expensive than ever, and many people–especially professionals–don’t have the time to invest in college classes given that they’re already entrenched in their present careers. 

An ideal solution would be a training program available online and on-demand, allowing individuals to learn at their own pace while providing a solid framework that’s cost-effective for individuals as well as organizations.

The good news is that you’re experiencing that solution at this very moment, 

Enterprise Training has an extensive list of Information Technology courses that cover a variety of topics including Apache, Blockchain, MySQL, and so much more. 

ETS learners gain access to over 60 state and national affiliations, as well as accreditation courses, and we also offer IT certifications to solidify your expertise in the data science field. 

If you’re interested in positioning yourself for a promising career in data science while making a positive impact in your organization and the world, begin your training today from the comfort of your own home. 

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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Improve the Environment and Your Career with a LEED Certification

When planning your career path, it takes foresight to predict what the future might hold in store. For facilities management professionals, the future is green. 

Acquiring LEED certification is one of best ways to evolve with the industry (and environment) at large and put you in a position to keep your career path trending upwards.

The certification is recognized globally across 165 countries and over 2.2 million square feet of buildings are receiving LEED certification every day. 

Even the International Labor Organization has projected that over 6.5 million job opportunities are going to be generated as a result of green construction projects by 2030. 

As more companies and nations rally to handle the environmental crisis, which is one of the greatest threats we face today, any LEED-certified professional will likely be guaranteed work for many years to come. 

This is true for anyone involved in building construction and management – whether you’re a construction worker, architect, or facilities manager.

To understand precisely why LEED certification can have such an impact on your career, it’s important to have industry context and to understand what LEED certification is. 

What Does LEED Certification Stand For?

The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The certification program is used as a form of quality control; assessing a building’s design and construction based on a number of factors including:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Building materials
  • Access to public transportation
  • Responsible land usage
  • Air quality
  • Water usage

The program itself is sponsored by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). If a building project participates in the program, they can be awarded four different levels of LEED certification, depending on how many points they score on the exam:

  • 40-49 points = LEED Certified Buildings
  • 50-59 points = LEED Silver Buildings
  • 60-79 points = LEED Gold Buildings
  • 80+ points = LEED Platinum Buildings

Why LEED Certification Can Improve Your Career

LEED is significant because it operates as a third-party verification system, meaning every project involved with a LEED-certified professional is vetted through an extra layer of accountability.

In other words, even if a construction and design agency guarantees that a project will adhere to high standards regarding sustainability, LEED certification makes sure those standards are in fact being met.  

There are many tangible reasons to acquire LEED certification, not least among them being financial benefits. 

Between 2015-2018, the USGBC reported that LEED-certified buildings saved an estimated $1.5 billion in energy costs: $145.9 million in water, $715.2 million in maintenance, and $54.2 million in waste!

The USGBC also reported that buildings that are LEED-certified are worth 4% more than buildings that are not. In the end, having the certification serves to benefit everyone involved in building projects, from the project managers to the tenants themselves. 

The certification itself is the most difficult of its kind to acquire, which is why those who do become LEED-certified are recognized as a cut above those who don’t. 

In fact, having a record of LEED-certified projects on your resume can quickly grow your reputation as a thought leader within the construction and facilities management industries as well as the movement towards a sustainable future. 

So, what steps should you take to get there? 

Getting LEED Certified

To acquire your LEED certification, you must pass the official LEED certification exam provided by the Green Business Certification, Inc. Instead of a one-size-fits-all exam, you have the option to take five different tests:

  1. Building Design & Construction
  2. Operations & Maintenance
  3. Interior Design & Construction
  4. Neighborhood Development 

Technically speaking, there isn’t a prerequisite class required to take these tests, but it’s highly recommended to come prepared since they’re difficult to pass.

While there are a number of colleges and universities that offer LEED certification courses, it can be difficult for you to find the time necessary to go back to school as a working professional. 

A solution does exist, however, and you’re reading it at this very moment. 

Enterprise Training is an official USGBC education provider, and we offer on-demand courses dedicated to LEED certification which you can consume at your pace from the comfort of your own home. 

As an ETS Learner, you’ll also receive access to over 60 state and national affiliations and accreditations courses, the completion certificates, and the ability to print course materials for later reference. 

If you’re interested in becoming LEED certified to improve your career while building a more sustainable world, start your free trial of Enterprise Training today. 

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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Adult Learning Theory and eLearning: Why and How to Educate Yourself Best

Remember what famous rockstar Alice Cooper told us?

“Schoooooooool’s out! Forever!”

He was right…sort of.

While traditional school may be over for you, the thing you did in school – learning – probably isn’t.

Like most working adults, you may have decided to continue your education.

Or, perhaps you haven’t yet and know that you should.

Well, in today’s post we’ll go over why adults continue learning (adult learning theory), how adults effectively learn, and the #1 method for learning every adult can benefit from.

So first up, the reason for continuing education.

Why Adults Continue Learning

There are many reasons why adults decide to seriously learn new subjects and skills long after graduation.

We list the 3 most common reasons below.

To Advance Their Career

Probably the biggest reason adults undertake learning initiatives is to move up the ladder in the organization they work for.

This is especially true if you work in a culture of continuous learning.

The fact is, ongoing education makes you more valuable as an employee. You will inevitably know more than your peers, be able to do more than them, and be able to take on the greater responsibilities that come with a promotion and raise.

Of course, expanding your education also makes you more marketable.

Consider licenses or certifications like the CISSP certification. That goes a long way in helping you find a better job or get the accreditation you require to move up in your agency.

To Keep Their Minds Active

Beyond career goals, many adults decide to further their education in order to keep their minds active and healthy.

According to the Association for Psychological Science:

“New research indicates that only certain activities — learning a mentally demanding skill like photography, for instance — are likely to improve cognitive functioning.”

A psychological scientist and the lead researcher Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas goes on to say that:

“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially. When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

Learning new skills, even in the work environment, will provide the stimulation needed to keep your mind healthy.

To Earn a Degree

For some people, they need to continue learning to get the degree they never got, and may need.

This may for career advancement, but it may also be personal.

More often than not, we learn things for reasons that have nothing to do with making money or advancing our careers. Rather, many people continue learning to prove to themselves that they can do it. To feel a sense of personal achievement and to receive the honor of that achievement, like a degree from a good university.

Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to continue learning, which is what we cover in the next section.

How Adults Learn (Adult Learning Theory)

What regular people call adult education, famed American educator Malcolm Shepherd Knowles called Andragogy – a synonym that basically means the art, science, and theory of adult learning.

Knowles became famous for penning his “5 assumptions of Adult Learners”:

  1. Self-concept – While children have a dependent concept of self, adults see themselves as self-direction.
  2. Adult learner experience – The more an adult has learned, the more knowledge an understanding they can bring to the next subject.
  3. Readiness to learn – An adult’s readiness to learn is more dependent on their social roles than on their physiological development, like it is in children.
  4. Orientation to learning – Adults orient themselves around learning in terms of immediate application.
  5. Motivation to learn – The most powerful motivator to learn comes from within for adults, while external motivators like a promotion or a raise also play a role.

These 5 assumptions tell you how adults should approach learning, but not the methods for learning itself.

That’s what we touch on in the next section.

Why eLearning is the Best Option for Adult Learning

Adults can use books, videos, in-person trainers, lived experience, and a host of other ways to actually take information into their brains and learn it.

But the #1 way…

The way that matches Knowles’ 5 assumptions of adult learners…

Is eLearning.

It allows adults to learn in short bursts on their own, called microlearning.

It’s more effective than other forms of learning.

And it’s one of the cheapest options out there.

If you need to implement an adult learning platform in your agency that covers every topic under the sun from IT to project management, then get your free trial of Enterprise Training below!

 

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7 Digital Learner Preferences to Know in 2019

Digital learner preferences
Digital learner preferences vary between each individual and across different organizations and agencies.

 

What are the digital learning preferences of your employees?

If you don’t know, your employees may secretly hate learning, or worse, they aren’t absorbing what you teach them – leading to constant retraining, poor performance, and bad customer service.

All of which can be reversed when you do know about digital learner preferences.

And the Digital Learning Consortium is here to show you just what they are.

They recently released a survey titled Voice of the Learner conducted during the spring and summer of 2018 that gathered responses from 5,000 learners spanning 5 generations from 114 countries in 15 professions.

So you know they found some good stuff.

We’re going to detail the major takeaways from this study below to show you how to design digital learning programs that your employees look forward to taking.

7 Digital Learner Preferences

1. A.I. Without Privacy Violations

Most respondents said they would use A.I.

They recognize the benefits of A.I., such as automatically identifying skill gaps and recommending learning activities to fill the gaps.

There’s just one sticking point:

Privacy.

Many respondents said they were worried about how their managers would use information collected using A.I. They’re afraid it may be used against them when being given assignments or during performance evaluations.

Keep this in mind if you decide to implement A.I. and attempt to keep things as transparent and voluntary as possible.

2. Learning Records That Are Controlled by Individual Learners

The majority of survey respondents (over two-thirds) want learning records that follow them throughout their career, enabling them to view and share their progress with anyone.

But once again, the issue of privacy crops up.

These same employees want to be in complete control over their records instead of giving control to a 3rd-party. Essentially, they would act like “supercharged resumes or LinkedIn profiles” that were kept secure by the learner themselves.

3. Online Courses and Digital Reading over Video

While online courses had the highest mean importance, respondents spent the most time each week (1.6 hours) on digital reading, both overtaking video in importance and time spent.

It seems respondents didn’t enjoy audio or webcasting.

4. Learning Alone

Another surprising finding from this study is that 58% of respondents said they prefer learning alone rather than in groups (when engaged in a Massive Open Online Course environment).

At the same time, 70% of respondents agreed that peer-to-peer interactions enhance the learning experience. But if they form learning groups, most of them preferred group sizes of 3-6 instead of large group sessions.

5. Longer Learning Sessions over Microlearning

As if this report didn’t feature enough shocking information, it turns out that most people don’t prefer microlearning.

Here’s how the numbers broke down:

  • 51% prefer 20-45 minute learning sessions.
  • 24% prefer 1-2 hour long learning sessions.
  • 9% prefer 5-10 minute learning sessions.

This tells us that a mix of learning experiences would be best, allowing individual employees to tailor the learning experience to their preferences.

6. A Clear Link Between Learning and Their Career

Now, this next point should come as no surprise:

Over 70% of respondents are more motivated to learn when they see a clear link between what they’re learning and how it furthers their career.

If you can create a culture of continuous learning that rewards intelligent and competent employees with raises, promotions, perks, rewards, etc., then you’re employees will gladly engage in your learning programs.

7. Centralized Learning Hub

78% of respondents prefer a centralized learning hub where they can access all of their training from anywhere.

They don’t care much about seeing the speaker or in virtual reality, but they do care about having personalized recommendations and an organized knowledge database they can use at will.

The Next Step in Meeting Digital Learner Preferences

Now you know what your employees want from your learning initiative.

The next step is to give it to them.

But you don’t want to provide it haphazardly – one program for this and another for that.

Like the last point in our list above, you want to give your employees a central hub of information they can access while in the office, on a train home, or in their bedroom.

You have to make learning easy for them.

And it should include courses, reading material, and videos to cater to all different needs and learning preferences.

Where can you find all of this in one package?

Right here at Enterprise Training.

We have over 6,000 online government training courses covering everything from cybersecurity to project management.

If you need a one-stop-shop for your employees’ learning needs, then try a 14-day free trial of Enterprise Training today by clicking the button below.

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Maximize the Effectiveness of ELearning with These 5 Strategies

You can improve the effectiveness of eLearning in your agency by applying the right strategies.
You can improve the effectiveness of eLearning in your agency by applying the right strategies.

Have you implemented an eLearning program in your agency but aren’t seeing the results you expected?

We understand how frustrating that can be.

You probably see all the obvious advantages eLearning offers your agency – low cost, easy to use, available on-demand, etc. – yet you still struggle with optimizing the program’s usage and adoption.

Why?

Because implementing a program alone isn’t enough.

You have to work with your employees and managers to set forth the right plans, policies, and procedures to improve the effectiveness of eLearning in your agency.

In today’s post, we’ll help you do just that.

We’ll give you 5 tips for making your eLearning program effective both for learning and productivity.

By the end, you’ll be armed with proven strategies for building a long-lasting eLearning program that delivers the results you’re looking for.

5 Tips to Improve the Effectiveness of ELearning

Create Individual Development Plan Goals

Individual development plan goals are part of a formal agreement between the employer and the employee regarding how the employee will grow within your organization.

These goals establish the expected results that your employees will accomplish over a set period of time.

One of your employees’ major goals should be the development of their skills and knowledge.

Once identified, you can help your employees put together a concrete learning plan that will teach them the information and abilities they require to reach their goals.

WIthout clear learning goals, your employees may jump from one resource to the next, educating themselves haphazardly, and never making any real progress.

That’s where managers come in to help employees align their skill gaps with the necessary courses and resources for achieving their objectives.

Use Microlearning

While long-form learning is critical for educating your employees about big and important subjects, microlearning is useful for most other subjects – and makes learning more productive.

According to Bersin by Deloitte’s infographic Meet the Modern Learner, The average employee only has time to devote 1% of their work week to professional development. That means only 24 minutes a week or 4.8 minutes a day can be allotted for training in a normal 40-hour work week.

Microlearning maximizes your employees’ retention by delivering bite-sized concepts in an easy-to-consume format – enhancing the effectiveness of eLearning.

Also, microlearning makes it easy for you to organize training within the context of the work your employees actually do.

For example, if one of your employees needs to brush up on microsoft network security, they can watch a short video and get back to work in a few minutes. The same is true if they need to read a short white paper or flip to a certain chapter in a book.

Giving your employees microlearning resources they can access and consume quickly will make your eLearning program more effective and engaging.

Increase Employee Engagement

According to Wikipedia, an engaged employee is a person who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and who takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

Engaged employees work harder without being asked. They stay late because they genuinely want to perform well for their department and agency. They don’t complain about playing catch-up on work because their coworker was out sick – they gladly shoulder the load.

The engaged employee is the person who lives and breathes your agency’s mission because they’ve made it their own.

By increasing employee engagement in your agency, you’ll make it more likely that your employees will take your eLearning initiative seriously, contribute to enhancing the program, and work hard to achieve their goals.

Cultivate a Culture of Continuous Learning

A culture of continuous learning means that all of your employees are teaching themselves and helping each other be better, achieve more, and advance their careers.

This type of culture will encourage your employees to optimize the effectiveness of your eLearning program and maximize their results.

Also, continuous learning is key for well-executed Government succession planning by making it easier for leadership and institutional knowledge to be passed on and absorbed by the employees filling the vacant positions within your agency.

Here are a few ways to create a culture of continuous learning:

  1. Establish policies for ongoing training, supportive management, specific office hours dedicated to learning, etc.
  2. Tell your employees about your goals to create a continuous learning culture and encourage them to adopt the values and principles of ongoing education.
  3. Turn your managers into coaches and teach them how to help your employees solve problems, motivate themselves, and stay focused.
  4. Align each employee’s goals with the goals of your organization to stay on track and work together for a common purpose.

Find a Platform that Delivers Everything Your Employees Need

If you don’t want to commit to the hassle of designing your own courses, the best thing you can do is find an eLearning platform that delivers the information you need.

There are plenty of eLearning platforms available, but very few that cater specifically to Government agencies.

Even fewer that provide a wide enough breadth of courses for every one of your employees to choose from.

If you want a platform that puts their Government customers first and will tailor an eLearning program to your organizational requirements…

We can help.

Maximize the Effectiveness of Your ELearning Program

With courses for every level of employee, from leadership training to technical IT exam preparation, Our eLearning platform will allow each of your employees to advance their skills and upgrade their knowledge at their own pace and in their own time.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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How to Create a Culture of Continuous Learning in Your Agency

A culture of continuous learning will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your agency
A culture of continuous learning will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your agency

How do you get the best out of your employees?

By creating a culture of continuous learning.

Your employees are the most valuable asset in your organization, and by giving them the tools and opportunity to sharpen their skills and knowledge, you’ll help your agency perform at its peak potential.

The private sector is already using this strategy to empower their companies.

Corporate spending on learning rose to 10% in 2015 according to Global Human Capital Trends 2016. These companies realized that they could maximize the efficiency of their businesses by giving their employees the ability to learn what they needed when they needed.

The same can happen in your agency.

We’ll show you what a culture of continuous learning is and how to cultivate one in your organization for smarter, better, and more dedicated employees.

What is a Continuous Learning Culture?

For individuals, continuous learning is the process of keeping up with ever-changing trends, insights, and tools for better performance and higher achievements in your job.

For organizations or agencies, continuous learning is the process of empowering and encouraging your employees to upgrade their skills and knowledge at their own pace while helping their fellow employees do the same.

A culture of continuous learning means that all of your team members are teaching themselves and helping each other be better, achieve more, and advance their careers.

The benefits of a continuous learning culture are that your employees may offer ideas that you never considered before, or implement strategies and tactics that you didn’t know existed.

Your agency will gain a considerable advantage over other departments because your employees will become more mature, confident, and intelligent as a result of continuous learning.

Also, continuous learning is key for well-executed Government succession planning by making it easier for leadership and institutional knowledge to be passed on and absorbed by the employees filling the vacant positions within your agency.

So, how do you create a continuous learning culture?

5 Ways to Create a Culture of Continuous Learning

There are plenty of things you can do to make learning a large part of your agency. We’ll give you 5 ways to create a continuous learning environment in your organization today.

Define Your Goals

Before you implement a training program for your employees, you need to know why you’re implementing a program in the first place.

  • What’s your goal for your agency?
  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • How do you hope to improve?
  • How much money are you willing to spend?

Create a broad vision for your organization that keeps you and your employees on track, while at the same time allowing your employees to follow their own path to personal and professional development.

Provide training for new tools, software, and work methods, along with training that matches your employees’ individual goals.

Which brings us to the next tip for creating a culture of continuous learning…

Define Your Employees’ Individual Goals

Individual development plan goals are especially important for continuous learning.

Without them, it’s difficult for individuals to stay on track, and it’s hard for you to hold your employees accountable.

When your employees know what they’re learning and why they’re learning it, they’re more likely to finish their education and apply what they’ve learned.

But beyond the “why” of their learning plan, you should help them create an action list so that they implement the things they’re learning effectively.

Get Your Employees Onboard

A shift in your agency culture is only possible if everyone is onboard. The first thing you have to do to implement a culture of continuous learning is to tell your employees what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

You need to get all your employees to adopt similar values and principles, the same as you would when trying to increase employee engagement, for example.

Make learning a top priority, and consider revising your mission statement or internal agency slogan or “Values” to include continuous learning as a core tenet of how you run your organization.

You and the rest of your managers should lead by example and demonstrate your own commitment to continuous learning while helping your employees improve their continuous learning plans.

But you should be much more than just a manager…

Turn Your Managers into Coaches

A culture of continuous learning is dependent on managers and employees being open and honest with one another about learning goals, challenges, and achievements.

You should discuss those 3 things with your employees on a regular basis.

Like a coach, you need to be in their corner, ready and willing to help them solve problems and overcome obstacles when necessary.

Regular check-ins can provide the “push” that employees need to succeed. It also lets them know that you genuinely care about them and what they’re doing to better themselves.

Plus, by regularly checking in, you can course correct employees who may be studying or focusing on the wrong things, or help employees shift their priorities to be more productive.

The most important thing you can do as a manager/coach is to give them ample resources for continuous learning.

Give Your Employees Learning Resources

A continuous learning culture relies on constant access to learning resources.

Some of your employees will prefer long-form, formal training, while others will prefer microlearning that’s self-directed.

Sometimes, instructor-led training (ILT) is unavoidable and necessary.

But most of the time, all your employees need is access to relevant information for their specific job roles and goals.

The ease of access and cost of ELearning makes online education the most budget-friendly and employee-friendly option for all types of learners.

With the right ELearning platform, you employees can watch videos, read books, and listen to audio recordings on-demand.

It allows them to learn at their own pace, on their own time, when they’re ready to learn – as opposed to being forced to learn alongside everyone else in a group training session.

But where will you find a central database of resources that cover everything from IT exam preparation to project management and conflict resolution?

Right here at Enterprise Training Solutions.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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How the Low Cost of eLearning Can Save Your Agency in the Age of Trump

The low cost of elearning has helped organizations worldwide save money while learning faster
The low cost of eLearning has helped organizations worldwide save money while learning faster

After Trump initiated his hiring freeze on January 23rd, it was clear he was serious about trimming down agencies in Government.

On April 12th, Mick Mulvaney sent out a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies requiring them to reduce their workforce and maximize employee productivity.

By now, you’re probably trying to figure out how to create a competent and cost-effective plan to meet the memorandum’s stringent requirements.

If you’ve performed any type of succession planning, you know that you need to train your existing employees to handle the tasks of your retirement-aged staff.

Unfortunately, you might not have enough money to pay for instructor-led training (ILT), or, at the very least, you’re going to need to supplement ILT with something more cost-effective.

Well, an alternative to ILT does exist that allows you to save time and money, and allows your participants to learn faster.

It’s called eLearning, and it’s a booming industry.

According to Global Market Insights, the eLearning market size was valued at $165 billion in 2015 and is likely to grow at 5% from 2016 to 2023, topping $240 billion.

The public and private sector have been quick to adopt eLearning for a variety of reasons that can benefit your agency.

First up in benefits: how much money you can be saving by switching from ILT to eLearning.

The (Low) Cost of eLearning

Caterpillar University (CU) created a helpful model for calculating the total cost of eLearning as compared to ILT and their results demonstrate why eLearning is the preferred training and development vehicle for agencies with heavy budget cuts.

CU found that the cost of eLearning was almost always much less than ILT, regardless of the participant size.

For example, if you were training a group of 100 people for just 1 hour, eLearning was over 40% less expensive than ILT ($9,500 vs. $17, 062).

When they modeled much larger group sizes and longer programs, the cost of eLearning is even more pronounced with savings as high as 78%.

If you need to train your employees without overspending, eLearning is your best option.

But the financial cost of eLearning isn’t the only benefit…

The Educational Cost of elearning

ILT is definitely the preferred form of learning when you have to train your employees in advanced skills and complex subjects.

But not all skills and subjects require in-depth, long-form training sessions.

For simple topics, broad concepts, and straightforward skills, eLearning can provide all the content required to train your employees quickly and efficiently.

If you have created individual development plan goals for your employees, eLearning can accelerate their professional development by allowing them to learn at their own pace without the pressure of group training sessions.

Ultimately, the cost of eLearning is not only measured in dollars, but in the value it provides to your employees.

The Benefits of an eLearning Program

Flexible Training Design

When operating on tight budget constraints, you need to be able to deliver the education your employees require at the cost your budget demands.

ELearning programs can be deployed as prepackaged courses–ready to teach a specific subject–or you can design a course yourself using an eLearning format, which will make course creation much easier.

Multi-Device Learning

Today’s learner needs to access knowledge wherever they are, on any device. Not only on computers at work or at home, but on tablets while commuting, or on their phones at lunch.

The cost of eLearning is dramatically reduced because of the increasingly low-cost of high-quality technology which makes it easier to deploy learning programs and train employees.

Microlearning

Instead of slogging through hours or days worth of training, microlearning delivers the most important information in bite-sized lessons for a more effective and more enjoyable learning experience.

In fact, one study found that microlearning resulted in 20% higher information retention than long-form learning.

Is the Cost of eLearning Worth It?

To answer that question, consider what eLearning provides:

  • Faster training for employees
  • Lower cost than ILT
  • Easier to deploy on any device, anywhere

That certainly makes it seem worth it to us.

If it seems worth it to you, then it’s time to find a proven eLearning company who specializes in Government training and development.

And guess what?

You just found one.

Let’s Jump Start Your eLearning Program Today

We have over 6,000 online training programs designed specifically for Government agencies and employees to refine their skills, upgrade their knowledge, and perform their jobs better. You get 24/7 access to all of our courses and they can be viewed on all devices. Best of all, we understand that budgets are decreasing, which is why every Government agency we’ve worked with has benefited immensely from our affordable eLearning programs.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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How to Use Microlearning to Increase Productivity in Your Agency

Microlearning offers quick, easy to understand lessons for maximum comprehension
Microlearning offers quick, easy to understand lessons for maximum comprehension

Microlearning has been revolutionizing employee training and development in the corporate world, but is it applicable to Government agencies?

With increasing budget cuts, Government agencies have to maximize their returns on every dollar they spend.

Long-form training–where participants sit in a conference room for hours, learn from a hefty manual, and then take a test–can be costly and time-consuming.

Microlearning, on the other hand, can be consumed virtually anywhere, is delivered quickly, and the results are impressive.

A study from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany found that microlearning resulted in 20% higher information retention than long-form learning.

This means less time, money, and resources spent on retraining employees in your agency.

But, microlearning may not be the end all be all of learning and development that some companies would like you to believe.

To help you understand the proper role of microlearning in your agency, we’ll define microlearning, compare it to long-form learning, and discuss some of its benefits and drawbacks.

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is characterized by short, focused modules that help the learner understand one topic or idea at a time.

Modules are usually 3-5 minutes long (or shorter), and they incorporate video, audio, and written material for a full-sensory learning experience.

Microlearning can be deployed on any device which makes it ideal for busy learners and educators who want to be able to quickly learn and apply what they’ve learned immediately.

What’s the Difference Between Microlearning and Long-Form Learning

Traditional learning typically involves an instructor who decides how participants will be learning (text vs. audio vs. video vs. a mixture of all 3).

Participants usually go through the training only once, and training lasts for a few hours or a few days.

Microlearning, on the other hand, guarantees a variety of learning tools will be available to participants so that they can “drive” their own learning experience, and use only the tools that help them individually learn better.

Microlearning modules allow participants to learn at their own pace, and to break information into manageable chunks that are easier to remember long-term.

Traditional, long-form learning is very formal in its tone and setting–you arrive at one location, go through the whole training in the same place and in the same way, and then test your knowledge.

Microlearning is flexible enough to allow you to learn formally–like in a conference room with an instructor–or informally, like while riding the bus or on your lunch break.

Microlearning modules are designed to be consumed whenever you need to learn or relearn a topic or idea.

What are the Benefits of Microlearning?

Spaced Repetition

The most commonly cited benefit to Microlearning is how helpful it is in counteracting the famous “forgetting curve”, which hypothesizes that you will lose most of your acquired knowledge if you don’t attempt to retain it.

Because Microlearning modules are so short, they’re easy to consume again and again over time to solidify the knowledge in your memory.

Wide-Range of Applications

Microlearning modules can be used for teaching one-off ideas, for quick reference, or as part of a series of other microlearning programs.

Effective Outcomes

Microlearning will help you remember more of any given subject–especially if it’s complicated–because it breaks information down into bite-sized pieces that center around one big idea, allowing you to focus without distraction, and put your newfound knowledge into practice immediately.

Learner-Centered

Every individual has different capacities and preferences for learning.

Microlearning gives you the flexibility to design lesson plans and training sessions that will maximize the educational experience for each individual employee.

Plus, since some employees don’t have the time nor the interest in sitting through a long-form training session–especially if it’s filled with ancillary or discretionary content– you can deliver the essentials of the session in a compartmentalized, easy-to-consume format.

What are the Drawbacks of Microlearning?

Can’t Create Experts

If you really want to master a subject and become an expert, you’ll have to dive much deeper into your subject matter for much longer.

Concepts, definitions, and explanations can all be understood with microlearning, but complex topics, advanced skills, and in-depth knowledge require long-form learning.

More Planning Ahead of Time

If you’re tasked with creating a microlearning program, you’re going to have to wade through all the material you want to teach, identify the most essential parts of the course, and then break those down into easy to consume modules.

A microlearning program may not provide a complete picture of the subject matter because it usually covers only one aspect of a topic or idea.

Also, if the program creator misses a crucial bit of information when developing the course, they could make the learning experience feel disjointed or fragmented.

How Should Microlearning be Used?

Microlearning is best used as part of a hybrid learning program that also includes long-form learning and hands-on training. It is an ideal performance support tool, since it can be delivered anywhere, on any device, at the exact time an employee needs to learn or relearn a subject.

It’s not useful for complex topics, but it can be used as a spaced repetition tool that reinforces complex ideas by delivering a shortened version of them over time.

It’s also ideal for busy employees who travel often and only need to keep up-to-date with the latest training and development requirements.

At the end of the day, you need to decide what’s best for each individual employee based on their current level of skill and knowledge in order to provide them with the learning that suits them best.

Need a Microlearning Program For Your Agency?

We have over 6,000 online training programs designed specifically for Government agencies and employees to refine their skills, upgrade their knowledge, and perform their jobs better. You get 24/7 access to all of our courses and they can be viewed on all devices. Every Government agency we’ve worked with has benefited from our elearning courses.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation