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Leveraging TechnoLogy For TransporTaTion agency WorkForce DeveLopmenT anD Training A 2015 joint report released by the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Education, and Labor found that âthe recruitment and training of new and current workers responsible for the operation, mainte- nance, and construction of Americaâs transportation infrastructure is critical to maintaining a system that meets our economic and security needs in the 21st century global economy.â To this end, transpor- tation agencies are working to provide training and development that is timely, effective, and accessible to keep pace with rapid changes in the transportation industry. Yet the success of training and develop- ment programs often is hampered by limited resources as well as hiring and retention challenges, par- ticularly for highly skilled positions. These constraints have led many agencies to consider innovative ways to meet their training and development needs, particularly through the use of information and communication technologies (ICT). ICT is any product that stores, retrieves, manipulates, transmits, or receives information electroni- cally in a digital form. Some forms of ICT, such as CD-ROMs, have been used for training purposes for a long time, whereas others, such as mobile training, are fairly new. The Association for Talent Development explains ICT in this way, âTechnology-based learning can be delivered through online and satellite instructor-led classrooms, self-paced online and other computer-based methods, mobile devices, or non-computer technology (such as DVD). Online methods are a subset of this group and include instructor-led online classrooms and self-paced online learning.â ICT offers several benefits that make it an attractive alternative to traditional training methods. ICT: â¢ Reduces the need for brick-and-mortar training facilities. ICT methods use technological devices, such as a phone or computer, to deliver content. Any location where the phone or computer can be used to access the training is sufficient. â¢ Reduces the need to travel. Depending on the ICT method used, the learner can complete train- ing at his or her desk or home or may travel to a local site with the necessary ICT hardware to participate in training. â¢ Reduces the cost of printing, producing, and distributing course materials. Although course materials still need to be developed, they can be distributed, reviewed, and completed electronically. â¢ Promotes greater access to training. ICT methods have the potential to reach more learners more quickly than do traditional methods. ICT can be used to deliver training to an entire target audience statewide in a single session. ICT also can be used to deliver a series of sessions to multiple locations and audiences on a condensed schedule, so all learners receive timely information. â¢ Promotes delivery consistency. Content that is delivered through on-the-job training or by a multitude of instructors often suffers from lack of consistency. Many ICT methods allow for a standardized training experience. The focus of this study is the use of ICT-supported training for state and local roadway trans- portation workforce development and training programs within the United States. The objective of this synthesis is to document how state and local transportation agencies are using ICT to train their workforces and the planning and resources required to implement and maintain a training and development program. summary
2 Information that is documented in the synthesis includes: â¢ ICT usage. How many agencies are using ICT, and what types of ICT are they using? â¢ Implementation of ICT. What efforts were completed by agencies to implement ICT, including review of other industry ICT models? â¢ Designing and delivering ICT-supported training. What steps does the agency complete to design, develop, or acquire ICT training? â¢ Tracking and evaluating ICT-supported training. What processes and tools are being used by agencies to track and evaluate the impact of ICT-supported training on employee performance and determine if the training is effective? â¢ Future ICT efforts. What expectations do agencies have about the use of ICT-supported training over the next 5 years? The information contained in this synthesis was obtained using three sources. First, a literature review was conducted to provide background information about the state of ICT-supported training practice at transportation agencies and other industries nationwide. Second, a survey was distributed to each member of the National Transportation Training Directors and the National Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP)/Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP). Forty state departments of transportation (DOTs) (80% of 50 states) and 38 LTAP/TTAPs responded to the survey (66% of 58 agencies). Finally, follow-up interviews with representatives from a state DOT, LTAPs, the Cen- ter for Training Transportation Professionals at the University of Arkansas, and the Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council (TCCC) were conducted to expand on specific aspects of their programs. The survey results show that 34 state DOTs and 17 LTAP/TTAPs use ICT to deliver training, although ICT entities may have been acquired for and serve other purposes. ICT-supported training is being used to replace more traditional delivery methods, convert traditional courses to blended train- ing, and create supplemental training components for existing training products. In some instances, agencies are moving toward exclusive use of ICT-supported training for all new developments, but more typically, ICT is being used in conjunction with traditional training to offer blended training. ICT is used to support training because it addresses many of the constraints of more traditional methods. For example, ICT can reduce the amount of time spent in the classroom and provide employees with more flexibility for accessing and completing training. Other benefits that ICT- supported training can provide, such as more individualized learning opportunities, were cited by only one respondent. This benefit is a more sophisticated application of the ICT delivery method, so it is possible that agency programs will grow to embrace this opportunity as their programs evolve. Agencies model their own ICT-supported training programs on different organizations and entities, including government agencies outside of transportation, private sector companies, and industry organizations such as the TCCC. To make the implementation a success, agencies complete various tasks, such as acquiring hardware and software, identifying an ICT training provider, hiring support staff, and acquiring or accessing a learning management system. The most widely used types of ICT-supported training are web-based and computer-based training. (It should be noted that some agencies apply these terms interchangeably.) Little training is designed and delivered specifically for mobile technology, although some of the web-based training available can be completed on a mobile device. ICT is used to deliver a wide variety of content. Content areas include human resources and person- nel issues, traffic safety, construction, maintenance, finance, administration, and emergency manage- ment. Agencies are frequently developing ICT-supported training in-house rather than developing or acquiring training through contractors or consultants. In-house staff is tasked with reviewing and updating ICT-supported training products, whether on a regular or ad hoc basis. State DOTs are using partnerships to develop or acquire ICT-supported training, whereas LTAP/TTAPs leverage this oppor- tunity much less frequently. The TCCC is listed frequently as a state DOT teaming partner, as are community colleges, Clear Roads, the American Public Works Association (APWA), university trans-
3 portation centers, FHWA, the National Transportation Training Directors organization, the National Highway Institute (NHI), and the Transportation Learning Network. Agencies are also using third- party vendors, such as NHI and AASHTO, to acquire training. The cost associated with developing 1 h of ICT-supported training as reported by 22 state DOTs and nine LTAP/TTAPs falls into the range of $1,000 to $5,000. It is not known which costs are included by the agencies in this estimate; however, in two case examples interviewees cited time/labor as the main development cost tracked. Most agencies indicate that subject matter experts are a part of the development effort, as are training personnel, specifically instructional sys- tems designers. Because few agencies include more technical personnel in their development efforts (graphic designers, web developers) it is assumed that much of the ICT-supported training developed relies on PowerPoint conversion and e-learning software such as Adobe Connect, Articulate, or Lectora. This approach would allow for lower development costs, particularly if ICT-supported training usually was developed using existing training content and materials. Twenty-eight state DOTs and 13 LTAP/TTAPs stated that the content taught by means of ICT largely aligns with employee performance criteria or workforce objectives. Most content alignment verification occurs at the design stage with a review of the design plan. The impact of ICT-supported training on employee performance is unknown for most agencies. Although 11 agencies reported administering performance-based evaluations to determine content mastery after training, it is unclear whether this is for all ICT-supported training offerings and whether the evaluation results indicate a positive impact on performance. It is also unknown whether agencies measure performance before training, to determine post-training progress. Research is needed in this area. In general, agencies not using ICT plan to acquire it in the next 3 to 5 years, although not necessarily for training purposes. Among agencies with ICT-supported training, most plan to expand or maintain their offerings over the next 3 to 5 years, reflecting a level of satisfaction with ICT-supported methods. A review of this report leads to additional questions about the use of ICT-supported training that could be answered with future research. In particular, research could validate this reportâs data on ICT-supported training programs, determine the efficacy of ICT-supported training methods for transportation audiences, establish a standard of quality for ICT-supported training products, and expand and improve state and local agency networks to disseminate training resources.