“The “Now” generation wants their news, entertainment, information and access to online stores instantly whether that is on the bus, bedroom or even on the beach.”
In the same way the Smart Worker want solutions to their performance or learning problems, NOW, and in a mouse-click. And, what is more, as a tweet in recent live Twitter #realwplearn chat on performance support, points out:
“People don’t want to study a problem, they want to solve it”
This is why the Smart Worker, rather than looking for a course, they choose to find quick solutions to their problems, by accessing resources that individuals have created and freely shared for others to use. These are not trivial materials, but valuable performance support resources, for example:
- How-to materials at sites like Wiki How – “the world’s collaborative how-to manual” – that provide clear steps on how to do something, e.g. How to add a movie to an iPad
- Videos and screencasts at sites like YouTube, that show you how to carry out a task, e.g. How to use Google Plus
- Presentation slidesets at sites like Slideshare, that provide useful information on a topic, e.g. 8 reasons why you should focus on informal and social learning
When a need for some content to support a learning or performance problem has been defined, bear in mind these 5 points:
1 – Consider how people are going to use that content; they are more than likely to want to dip in and out of the materials to get what they need, rather than take a linear path through them.
People no longer want just-in-case learning, but just-in-time learning; when they need it. They don’t want or need to have to memorize information just in case they need it; they only need to know where to find it, when they need it.”
Adult learners are becoming increasingly frustrated at how they are being treated as idiots in how they are expected to use online courses. [Geeta Bose]
2 – Focus on performance outcomes – what they will be able to “do” as a result of using the materials (rather than learning outcomes what they will “know” or “understand”).
3 – Keep the materials short and as simple as possible; people want quick answers to their problems. They may even prefer to print them out and keep them by them, or even copy instructions into online notebooks. What they don’t want is long explanations and discussions of concepts and background information.
Don’t over-engineer a solution, e.g. hard code key instructions in Flash or add other gratuitous multimedia or interactivity. If the content is useful and valuable, people will want to use it; they won’t need to be forced to do so. Keep things as simple as possible. [se Online courses must die]
Creating courses is most cases inefficient, costly and time-consuming [8 reasons why you should focus on informal and social, Charles Jennings]
4 – Ensure resources are readable in mobile devices
In a recent survey, 75% said workplace trainings would be more valuable if they were available remotely through hand-held mobile devices (Generation gap in workplace training)
5 – Think in terms of job aids rather than courses!
Here are a couple of performance support/help resources that I think demonstrate some of the points mentioned above.
- quickly found in a Google search
- simple web pages – with information available as a list of short text intructions or as a video to watch
- in the case of the textual instructions, easily printable or copiable
- in the case of the video, performance outcomes shown in terms of what you will be able to do as a result
- easily readable on mobile devices
- other materials also available to back-fill in or add extra skills (in the index and in the list on the left)
Although this Guide is available as a comprehensive interactive tutorial for both novice and experienced users, a key aspect is the two job aids (aka “cheat sheets”), e.g. the 2-page quick reference sheet that provide summaries.
- simple summary of features and commands
- available as a web page or printable PDF
Other examples of job aids in this format can be found at jobaids.info/index.shtm
Producing effective job aids requires good information design skills, so here’s a job aid (in PDF format) on creating Job aids
In summary: a well-designed yet simple “cheat sheet”, job aid, web page of textual instructions or short video is likely to more more useful and usable as a performance support tool than an online course.
Why not even think about creating an infographic. What is an infographic? Take a look here
Here are some tools for creating an infographic – they are very popular right now.
Remember how popular videos like CommonCraft’s In Plain English series are. Here’s one example, Social Media in Plain English
This video (not from CommonCraft) even explains how to create a CommonCraft-style video
- If mobile learning and support are wonderful, why aren’t they everywhere, Allison Rossett, elearn mag, November 2011
- What is the learning world coming to, Archana Narayan, 4 March 2011
- Job aids: tools that help boil it down, Robby Champion, 1999
- Job aids make training simple, Nanette Miner, Training Doctor, 1998
Traditional workplace learning thinking
- Believe performance problems can only be solved by training solutions.
- Believe the only valid solutions are those created/delivered by L&D
- Ban access to social media resources – just to make sure.
- Believe that courses (ie comprehensive solutions to problems) are the only way forward, and that there are no shortcuts.
- Provide only instructionally-designed solutions
New workplace learning thinking
- Produce performance aids (in diff formats: PDfs, screencasts, etc) than courses, where good information design is important
- Realise you can’t create everything everyone will need – and don’t need to reinvent the wheel, so help people find useful, trustworthy resources on the Social Web