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45 Workforce development and training programs are increasingly using information and communica- tion technologies (ICT) as a tool to deliver training and development products. Yet there is little research on how transportation agencies are incorporating ICT into existing programs. This synthe- sis sought to document the training and development uses of ICT at state and local transportation agencies, the planning and resources required to implement and maintain ICT, and future plans for ICT-supported programs. Overall Findings ICT-supported training is common practice for 34 state departments of transportation (DOTs) and 14 Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAPs)/Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAPs). Most of those not yet using ICT delivery methods plan to adopt ICT or at least consider ICT options in the near future. The reasons for the growing use of ICT at transportation agencies are many. One of the main reasons is cost: training and workforce development budgets are rarely suf- ficient to address all of an agencyâs training needs, and they do not keep pace with the increasing complexity of the tasks employees must be trained to do. ICT delivery methods can help reduce the operational and travel costs typically associated with traditional training methods, although these savings may be offset by the costs to purchase and maintain ICT. ICT also promotes greater access to training for all learners, more flexibility in the scheduling and completion of training, and better content consistency in some instances. For all of these reasons, ICT-supported train- ing is expected to maintain its importance in transportation agency workforce development and training programs. In some agencies, ICT is replacing courses previously delivered using traditional methods. How- ever, many agencies use ICT-supported training, particularly web-based and computer-based training methods, in conjunction with classroom-based training. This approach is known as blended training. Agencies state that the use of ICT-supported and traditional methods maximizes the benefits to the learner. ICT-supported methods are used to provide flexible, but consistent, training opportunities and supplemental training products and job aids that are available on demand. Classroom-based training is used to provide access to instructors and an opportunity to engage with peers, as well as to apply the knowledge gained from the ICT-supported training to performance-based activities. By using the blended approach, agencies are able to harness the benefits of both ICT and traditional delivery meth- ods and pass those benefits on to their employees. To develop ICT-supported training, many agencies are using in-house resources, often on a limited budget. Agencies rely heavily on subject matter experts to provide content for training and review the products throughout the process. Some agencies are using instructional designers to assist with development projects, but only a small number use graphic or web designers on training prod- uct developments. As a result, the application of training pedagogy to the design and development of ICT-supported training is not always occurring in the highway transportation industry. Efforts to overcome such practices are needed if agencies and learners are to realize the most benefit from ICT methods. Another approach frequently used by agencies to develop and deliver ICT training is partnering. Partnering is frequently used by agencies to overcome limited training development and delivery chapter five COnClusiOns
46 resources. State agencies in particular work with national and regional training groups, university transportation centers, community colleges, and others to develop and deliver training, leveraging their combined resources to deploy more training for employees. Although ICT training is widely developed and delivered, efforts to measure the impact of this type of training are not consistent. Most agencies measure learner satisfaction with ICT products, and many also measure content mastery, although these efforts are not always consistent across agency departments. Most agencies are not collecting data to clarify the return on investment ICT-supported training can provide or determine if ICT-supported training provides benefits to learners. The lack of this information makes it difficult to determine whether agencies are getting value out of their investment in ICT or whether ICT is being used to its potential. Future researCh This synthesis report is a first step in documenting how ICT-supported training is being used by state and local agencies. The results of this report raise other questions about the practices docu- mented here, questions that can be addressed through additional study. In particular, future 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 dis- seminate training resources. verify and expand upon iCt-supported training development data As indicated in the âSurvey Limitationsâ section of this report, inconsistencies were noted when gathering data on ICT-supported training development and delivery. This often appeared to be the result of information silos within each agency. For instance, a survey response completed by a human resources department employee indicated no mobile training was available at the agency, but a case example interviewee revealed mobile training had been developed by another department. Other data inconsistencies appear to be related to respondentsâ confusion with ICT-related terms. For instance, web-based training and computer-based training are used interchangeably by some respondents, whereas others apply a different definition to mobile training than was used in this report. In addi- tion, there were questions about the costs listed to develop training. Additional research is needed to determine the reliability of estimated costs to develop 1 h of ICT-supported training and identify all the factors involved in developing an estimate. investigate the efficacy of iCt-supported training Methods Research continues to be scant on the efficacy of ICT-supported training for various target audiences within transportation. This is in part because agencies rarely measure the impact of ICT-supported training on employee performance. Research is needed to determine which ICT methods, either alone or in combination with other methods, provide the most benefit to various target audiences. This information will allow agencies to make better decisions about the ICT they use to deliver training and defend their choices to administrators. Such research, if properly applied, would allow for better selection of ICT delivery methods during the design process. This information would also provide important data to assist workforce development and training planning efforts. establish a standard of Quality Many agencies are developing and delivering ICT-supported training. However, there is currently no standard to evaluate the quality of the available training products and compare them. Research into the standards used by other industries to define quality ICT-supported training could be used to develop similar standards for the transportation industry. This would be an effective internal measure for agencies to evaluate training products, and would allow for an objective comparison of training products across agencies.
47 expand training resource networks Often important research does not make it into the hands of those who need it most. Training resources, such as research results, need to be disseminated consistently to training and human resources per- sonnel at state and local agencies. Existing organizations with a national communication network, such as FHWAâs Resource Centers, the National Transportation Training Directors organization, or the National Highway Institute, could develop a communication plan that focuses on disseminating current research, case examples, and content in the field of ICT-supported technology to transportation agencies. The organization could work in partnership with other industry training organizations, such as the Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council, to develop and implement the communication plan. This would increase the likelihood of information being received by its intended audience and potentially reduce redundancy in technology transfer efforts. In addition, the survey revealed that not all agencies have access to instructional designers and other professional training developers when designing ICT-supported training. The role of an instruc- tional designer, in conjunction with a graphic designer or web developer, is to design and develop an engaging learning product built on the principles of adult learning theory. Although national and regional partnerships exist that provide access to such resources for multiagency development projects, there is no known resource for individual agency training development. An existing orga- nization with a national presence could identify a team of resources (instructional, graphic, and web designers) to assist with individual agency training development projects. This team could also pro- vide guidance and input on the evaluation of existing courseware, the acquisition of ICT or a learning management system, and alignment of training and workforce development objectives. This type of training resource network could help support the application of sound training pedagogy to ICT training development projects nationally and ideally promote a consistent standard of evaluating ICT training products across the transportation industry.