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Civil Service

Transforming Civil Service Learning digital

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John Fitzpatrick
John Fitzpatrick

I’m John Fitzpatrick and I’m 7 weeks into a new job, transforming the Civil Service Learning (CSL) website.

In the past, my training has been about delivering a specific role and I was quite passive about my learning.

But where I've taken more responsibility for my development, stretched myself to learn new skills and learned by doing, the difference has been huge. I've learned so much more, and it's this understanding that has brought me to CSL.

Government Digital Services (GDS) talk about ‘digital services so good that people prefer to use them’. That’s what we’re creating here, a service designed for civil servants by civil servants.

Civil Service Learning on the web today

It’s an exciting time to be working in government. I’m really enjoying getting to grips with the diverse range of learning needs we have in the Civil Service so we can make CSL better.

But, as a civil servant, the main reason you’ll log on to the CSL site is probably to complete our mandatory learning.

It’s not the most riveting experience: It takes longer than it should to complete and, for a number of us, doesn’t always record what we’ve done properly. Our users have told us that the booking system is clunky and they don’t like having separate passwords for the different systems we use in departments.

This is a great mandate for us to do better, and what we do with the site in future will be designed around user needs. In fact we’re one of the first cross-government teams to be using the rigorous process GDS applies to the digital services they've designed for the public.

The Civil Service Learning team working on developing user needs for the site
The Civil Service Learning team working on developing user needs for the site

Changing how we learn

I want to change the way we learn. There are more creative ways than ever to support learning, from bite-sized learning on smartphones to massive open online courses (CSL launched its first MOOC last month and the take-up has been huge). Learning by doing and using examples of some of the fabulous talent we have in the Civil Service are all in the mix for our future.

So, when you come to do your mandatory learning in the new world, it will be shorter and punchier, and easier to find. We know you want to be able to access learning wherever you are, so we’re working on that too.

We’re really interested in any thoughts you have on the current service, or things you’ve seen outside of work that you love and want to bring in here. Just send us an email.

Your feedback and support will continuously improve our learning experience.

We’re at the start of a journey

Discovery is about defining the user need and the value a service will bring to them.

A user in this context isn’t just a customer. It could be our Chief Executive who wants to know we’re on track to build the capability we need for the future, a manager who wants information on what learning their team has done or a finance team who need to be sure we’re booking and paying for services promptly.

After our discovery phase we’ll develop some prototypes and share them widely before further developing the service and testing.

Graphic showing the phases of a project from Discovery to Live
Click to read the Government Service Design Manual

It’s fabulous working with the experts in GDS who built GOV.UK as well as our hosts in Home Office digital as there’s such enthusiasm for improvement.

I’m looking forward to helping bring it all to fruition!

Follow us on Twitter @CSLGOVUK @fitzdigitalgov

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  1. Comment by Colette posted on

    Thanks John, much appreciated. Colette

  2. Comment by Colette posted on

    Hi John How is the project going? I would be interested to hear how you have gone about the discovery phase to develop your user requirements. Are you publishing the user feedback you have received, when do you hope to consult on the prototypes and do you have a timeframe for Go live?

    • Replies to Colette>

      Comment by John Fitzpatrick posted on

      Hi Collette - sorry for the delay. We're cracking on and have another blog due soon. We'll be showing the first prototype to users at Civil Service Live in London on 5-6 October. Please get in touch on Twitter or email to discuss further thanks

  3. Comment by Jack posted on

    I find using the CSL portal very intuitive. Like using the internet at home, of course there is an element of searching, but with the large number of courses e-learning, face to face and learning resources that there are available that is completely understandable. Using the Self Assessment tool really helps focus what your learning needs are and proposes learning solutions.

    I know how far CSL has developed since its creation, and how it has populated a curriculum from nothing. I hear all too often that CSL isn't very good, but I can say that I strongly oppose that view. I really don't think you should abandon all of the good work that has been done to date. But you could think of better ways to show case it. There are some great learning products out there.

    A lot of people I have spoken to do like a list or a catalogue to choose from. I know that CSL do produce this, perhaps you should make it more prominent on the home page as another way to search for products.

    As I see it, the priority for CSL is to do more promotions about what it has available and how those products support business delivery.

  4. Comment by Daz posted on


    The biggest issues I have with CSL, is it's so difficult to find stuff on there. For example I tried searching for a specialised IT course but was told I had to be in the 'Professions' tab first and had to drill down a number of levels from there before I found what I was looking for.

    • Replies to Daz>

      Comment by John Fitzpatrick posted on

      Thanks for the feedback Daz, it's similar to what we've received from other users. We'd be delighted to hear more about what you were looking for and share thoughts on how we are shaping improvements. Please drop a note or tweet and we'll pick this up. Best wishes John