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Three No-Cost Training Solutions for Local Government Training Offices

Posted on November 17, 2020


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Like many government training offices at the start of the COVID19 quarantine, you may have had to switch quickly from in-person training to online training. In my former office at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, we converted all the in-person classes to online delivery through WebEx. Thankfully, our staff was prepared because most of the team had been certified in online production and facilitation.

We quickly ran into “Zoom fatigue” (or “WebEx fatigue” in our case). A two-to-three hour in-person course doesn’t translate well into the online format without some significant changes. The first change was to shorten the class to fifty minutes or less. The second change was to break up the content into shorter pieces while providing interactions such as breakout rooms for the students to work with the content. The third change provides training between online sessions.

Many tools can create self-paced training—tools like Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline with substantial costs and a long procurement cycle. We needed a set of free tools, required little training, and can be deployed quickly. Toward that end, let me suggest three no-cost training solutions.

Microsoft OneNote – A Portable Microlearning Platform

The first solution is probably on your computer now. It’s Microsoft’s OneNote application, an electronic notebook that you can put any content into. You can embed web page links, audio, and video in the pages along with text and images. I used OneNote to create a self-guided study guide on developing more effective presentations. I included checklists, presentation outlines, and links to YouTube videos that provided examples of good presentations. The best thing about OneNote is that you can give each student their copy, which they can make their own by adding personal notes.

H5P – Interactive, Open-Source Training Content

The second solution is to use H5P HMTL interactions in your website or HTML documents. There are 45 interactions ranging from interactive video to an audio recorder. Starting at the end of November 2020, you can embed H5P interactions in OneNote notebooks. You can also host H5P interactions on H5P.org, some learning management systems, WordPress, or Drupal.

Open Broadcaster Studio – Free, Full-Featured Video Recording/Streaming Software

The third solution, Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS), is a sophisticated and robust video recording and streaming application. With OBS, you can create screen recordings, capture video from your webcam, and add audio tracks to your videos. OBS does have a significant learning curve, but there are plenty of helpful YouTube tutorials to help master the software’s intricacies. The best thing about OBS is that it has an active user community continuously building plugins for OBS, such as a virtual green screen or virtual puppets.

Moving to online training need not be expensive or complicated. There are plenty of free tools and user communities to help you master these tools and online training techniques. Even when we are back to in-person training, you now have more self-paced training tools to enhance your training and development efforts.


Dr. Bill Brantley teaches at the University of Louisville and the University of Maryland. He also works as a Federal training and development professional for the U.S. Navy’s Inspector General Office. He started his government career in Kentucky’s Department of Public Advocacy and moved on to the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet in the 1990s. All opinions are his own and do not reflect the views of his employers. You can reach him on LinkedIn.

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