OPM jumps on wiki bandwagon for training, development

Wednesday - 6/22/2011, 7:05pm EDT

Stephen Shih, deputy associate director, executive resources and employee development, OPM

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By Courtney Thompson
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management is using a wiki to provide federal employees with a new training and development resource.

The OPM Federal Training and Development Wiki, an interactive website, allows government professionals and managers to share and edit information on training and development practices like mentoring, coaching, low-cost training, and training evaluation.

Stephen Shih, OPM's deputy associate director for executive resources and employee development, talked with In-Depth's Francis Rose about the wiki site's progress.

"I think this product has a capacity to really make a meaningful difference in the way we manage our human capital in the federal workforce," he said.

Shih said that currently some of the most popular pages on the site are those about the Senior Executive Service (SES), but that generally users are interested in areas that affect the overall federal workforce such as training solutions, onboarding, and individual development plans. Resources are also available on best practices and information to help employees advance in the workforce, he added.

In managing the wiki, Shih said his office regularly checks for errors, accuracy, and appropriateness of the content submitted by users. He said that providing a "timely" and '"prompt" quality control review involves working closely with the office of communications and the public liaison so that the content and messages are in line with the objectives of OPM and President Barack Obama.

"I think it helps that we have the appropriate community of users," Shih said. The site can only be updated by federal employees with a valid ".gov", ".mil", or "si.edu" domain. However, anyone is able to access the site to view and search for content.

Shih said that it has been most rewarding to see the knowledge and best practices result from the influx of users and reception of what he referred to as an almost "free source of labor and technical expertise."

In the future, Shih said that OPM plans to keep expanding and growing the interactive web-based training and development service.

"Whatever our customers need, we'll aim at providing those," he said.

Shih said that his office is currently developing additional pages on individual learning accounts, pre-supervisory and supervisory training, learning transfer (knowledge management) and succession planning, which he added will be a priority area for federal government over the next few years.

Shih and his office were recognized for the wiki site when the Training Officers Consortium presented them with a 2010 innovation award presented to agencies or groups that use creative training approaches.

Shih credited President Obama and OPM Director John Berry for being supportive in the use of innovations and allowing employees to take risks to develop cutting-edge ideas in the way that OPM conducts business.

Courtney Thompson is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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