Public diplomacy - the action of engaging foreign audiences and opinion makers, through information and exchange programs, to advance U.S. national interests and strategic goals - is the responsibility of United States Information Agency. To achieve this mission, USIA's staff training and development will need to keep pace with rapid innovation, recognizing that USIA's strengths reside in its people, their dedication and the opportunity USIA gives them for personal growth and advancement.
USIA will devote resources for training that will be provided in a variety of ways, including technology-based training. It will create in FY99 a comprehensive plan to support performance and alignment of employee skills with the Agency's strategic goals.
USIA will establish an Agency Development Plan with specific goals for technology-based training for the next five years. The Plan will:
Integrate technology training into each employee's Individual Development Plan.
Provide structured classroom training in USIA's standard software applications.
Expand technology-based training:
- Self-paced CD-ROM and video courses;
- Increase digital video conferencing (DVC) training capability from installed base at 45 cities worldwide;
- Streaming video and other Internet-based tutorials, presentations, and courses, including retrieval of foreign-language text, audio and video to enhance skills of Foreign Service Officers;
- Distance learning, especially college courses;
- Information sharing using CD-ROM, Lotus Notes databases, e-mail;
- Live demonstrations of software, Agency policy, other presentations in the Agency Demonstration Center;
For two years USIA has contracted with the City University of New York to develop and conduct an email-based correspondence course on English-language writing skills for Foreign Service National employees, the A On-line Writing Lab.
Electronic communication methods, particularly the Internet and DVC can significantly increase the amount of training and the number of employees trained. The setup costs of DVC are easily recovered by the savings USIA will reap by reducing employee and trainer overseas travel. Sessions may be taped and passed to sites without DVC installed, saving on the costs of sessions at those sites. Training via CD-ROM, the Web, or video allows employees to complete courses at their own pace without removing them from their duties for extended periods.
USIA has undertaken numerous instructional technology projects and is exploring new options.
Digital Video Conferencing:
- Informational/Educational Web sites such as the USIA Year 2000 Web site and the Microsoft Exchange migration Web site, which includes tutorials about how the new email software works.
- Lotus Notes databases, accessible via the Web, containing USIA policies, schedules and procedures.
CD-ROM and Network-based Training:
- USIA intends to exploit this technology for training employees. Training sessions can be distributed both as tape and as streaming video on the Web.
Information Technology Learning Center:
- InfoBase - all of USIA's policies and procedures for administrative functions, also accessible on the USIA network and the Internet.
- Training CD for posts - contains specific overseas operating procedures.
- Foreign-language software in USIA's Career Learning Center.
Digital Library and U.S. Academic Explorer - reference materials for posts.
- Plato 2000 for communications, math, reading, writing, problem solving, and life skills.
Lunchtime Seminar Series:
- The Center contains a library of CD-ROM and video training materials on a variety of commercial software packages.
- The Office of Technology offers short tutorials for Agency employees in various technology, held in USIA's Demonstration Center where information is projected onto large, easily viewable screens.
Joseph Duffey, [former] Director