Building a Road to Success in the Age of Digital Learning
When it comes to the benefits of digital learning, together everyone achieves more. The Center for Local Aid Support (CLAS) in the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Innovative Program Delivery built a support system to sponsor online learning opportunities for a changing transportation workforce and a fast-moving transportation industry. The center's focus is on capacity building and ensuring that opportunities for professional growth and development are available 24/7 to local agencies and Tribes.
"Learning never stops even when you are a seasoned professional working in the transportation field," says Victoria Peters, director of CLAS. "Today's technology is not only enhancing our highway infrastructure; it is changing the way we learn. CLAS is integrating digital learning into our programs to help professionals keep pace."
CLAS has established several partnerships that are making around-the-clock training available online to local agencies and Tribes to improve their transportation programs, policies, and processes.
"For decades, NACE has not had a more valuable Federal partner than FHWA," says Kevan P. Stone, the executive director of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE). "The opportunity for our members to continually build their skills and be introduced to cutting-edge innovation has been immeasurable and undoubtedly saved lives. The CLAS team represents the very best of FHWA, and the ever-changing local infrastructure landscape will make them a vital support source for years to come."
Increasing Access to Continuous Learning
Capacity building is part of a continuous, long-term, strategic change process that can shift how transportation professionals think about and operate their highway system.
"Taking on a new job, trying a new process, or doing something new requires learning," says Peters.
The availability of online learning courses offers convenience and saves time for an industry that never stops. CLAS provides training on innovative practices and the latest advancements through its bi-monthly Innovation Exchange webinars and encourages dialogue among the participants in the webinars.
In addition, CLAS sponsors online access to over 400 transportation training modules through partnerships with the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and the National Highway Institute.
"I am thankful for [these organizations'] willingness to partner with FHWA to make their online resources available to complement the longstanding training and technical assistance provided by the Local Technical Assistance and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs," says Peters. "We all have a commitment to making the local transportation workforce stronger."
Despite having a small team with many partners, CLAS has big goals to improve transportation for its local and Tribal customers.
"Our team is proud of the differences we are making in the transportation industry and we are even more proud that we are able to transform transportation as members of FHWA," says Peters.
For more information on the Center for Local Aid Support and available online training, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/clas.
Trinette Ballard is a program manager with CLAS. She has worked for FHWA for 12 years.