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Online Learning Report

by on November 20, 2013

The following post is from our training team.

In FY 2008, NARA began offering virtual instructor-led records management training as an adjunct to existing in-person training.  So why did we go down this path?

Well, we knew that many agencies were being asked to do more with less, many Federal workers were beginning to work at home more, and that there were some agency customers we weren’t able to reach through our in-person classes.  We also knew that we wanted to be able to provide as much training to as many Federal customers as possible.  We then looked at the current NARA records management training offerings and chose two popular classes that we thought would be of interest to most Federal workers.  So the instructor-led online Basic Record Operations (BRO) and Vital Business Information (VBI) courses were born.

What are the advantages of online learning?  You can learn from the comfort of your own office; there is no travel or commuting involved in getting to your class; pay once, but train many (NARA allows you to use your registered connection in a conference room and invite other colleagues to attend the class sessions with you) and use your own records to learn records management skills and concepts.  And finally, online training provides a way for NARA to reach Federal workers across the globe.

NARA continues to offer BRO and VBI online.  In FY13, we piloted an online version of Records Management Program Development (KA6).  This class included both leader-led and asynchronous delivery of content to attendees.  We also offered agency-specific online training in FY13.

In FY13, NARA’s online sessions reached over 720 attendees from 67 agencies.  Classes reached Federal workers from Alaska to Washington, D.C. and from Germany to Kuwait.  The online BRO and VBI classes were attended by people from 20 different states, local and tribal governments as well as the private sector.  And attendees came from over 150 cities across 41 states and the District of Columbia.


Map showing sites where individuals attended NARA online classes

What some attendees had to say about the online records management classes.

  •  “Good course content, made clear and easy to understand. Knowledge checks throughout kept me engaged in a distance learning environment. Looking forward to taking more classes from NARA.” (August 2013 online BRO)
  •  “I had no back ground in record manag[m]ent or vital records management so the class provided a good spring board forward.” (September 2013 online VBI)

So what does this tell us?  This tells us that online training is one of the ways we can reach people we wouldn’t normally be able to through our in-person classes, and that attendees are getting a lot out of it.  NARA is keeping this in mind as we begin to look at creating online versions of all the Knowledge Area courses.

NARA will be offering the online BRO and VBI classes in the coming year.  We encourage you to check it out!  You will find out more information here:

We are requesting comments on a draft of an upcoming NARA Bulletin that replaces all previous guidance on identifying file formats acceptable for use when transferring permanent records to NARA. There are two parts to the draft; the draft Bulletin (.pdf) and an accompanying table of formats (.pdf).

The Bulletin applies to all electronic records that have been scheduled as permanent. It includes a number of changes in the way agencies should select and use file formats while giving more flexibility to agencies. It will include a link to the attached tables with specific file formats that will be updated as needed.

Please make your comments about the draft Bulletin and any suggestions by November 18, 2013. We will review all the comments we receive.

Thank you for your input!

We have just released NARA Bulletin 2014-02, Guidance on Managing Social Media Records. This Bulletin supersedes NARA Bulletin 2011-02: Guidance on Managing Records in Web 2.0/Social Media Platforms.  This Bulletin was written with feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders, including OMB, the Federal Records Council, Federal agencies, and the public. We thank everyone for their input.

Social media allows individuals to collaborate, create, organize, edit, comment on, combine, and share content, likely resulting in the creation of Federal records.  This guidance provides Federal agencies with high-level requirements and best practices for managing records created and received when using social media.  Any social media Federal records must be managed in compliance with Federal records management laws, regulations, and policies. This Bulletin does not contain platform-specific social media capture guidance.


We have now opened the annual records management reporting period. In consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, this year’s deadline has been extended from December 31, 2013 to January 31, 2014. Agencies are receiving a formal communications package from our office with full details and instructions.

This year, we are asking for reporting on the following:

1. Senior Agency Official (SAO) annual report: Progress towards specific goals or requirements in the Managing Government Records Directive. Agencies  received instructions and the template for the report on August 29, 2013.

2. Records Management Self Assessment (RMSA): The survey tool for the RMSA is now open for responses.  We sent the link in an e-mail  to designated points of contact After we have assessed the data we will send agencies an individualized report of their results.   We will also prepare and publish a comprehensive report later in FY 2014.

 3. Directive Requirements – 2.2 and 2.5: As part of this year’s RMSA, agencies must submit responses to two requirements established in the Managing Government Records Directive: (1)  Requirement 2.2 requires agencies to identify for transfer permanent records that have been in existence for more than 30 years and (2) Requirement 2.5 requires agencies identify all unscheduled records in their custody.  This requirement also covers all records stored at NARA and in other storage facilities that have not been properly scheduled. Agency’s responses to these requirements must be submitted using the spreadsheets we  provided earlier this year.

4. Annual SAO Designation: please reaffirm or designate a new SAO by sending the name, title, agency, office, email, phone number, and address information of the agency SAO to by November 15, 2013.

As a result of the recent Federal Government shutdown, we are canceling the October 23, Agency Services Bimonthly Records and Information Discussion Group (BRIDG) event due to the insufficient advance time needed to plan and prepare for this meeting.  The next regularly scheduled BRIDG meeting will be on Wednesday, December 18, so until then, please monitor this blog for new records management updates and guidance.

Earlier today, we posted an update specifically about the workshops scheduled to discuss our Bulletin on a New Approach to Managing Email, also known as Capstone.

Beginning Wednesday, October 23, all other previously scheduled records management training courses — including classes scheduled in College Park, MD, in the field, and online — will proceed as scheduled.  If you were registered in a class that was scheduled to take place between October 1st and October 23rd, we will contact you directly on whether the class has been canceled or re-scheduled.

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Angela Dorsey at, or call 301-837-1754.

April 2014
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