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Performance support and mobile learning

Performance support and mobile learning

Category: Mobile Learning

Performance Support and mobile learning are almost synonymous. Put simply it means using mobile devices to deliver add-ons or refreshers to existing training – a bit like the job aids of old.

One of the delights of performance support is that existing training has related content made available on mobile devices on demand, giving learners a quick refresher just when they need it.

Additionally, mobile performance support content can also be used as a supplement to formal and informal training, training in the classroom, eLearning or mobile learning. It should not be seen, though, as training on the cheap. If you choose to implement it, then it should be a cost in addition to your existing training budget, not taken from it. So, analyse the cost-benefits first, you may be doing no more than paying extra to get the same learning outcomes.

This one proviso aside, performance support materials represent a major plus for the mobile learning experience. In an ever more complex working world, fewer of us can remember all the information we need to do our jobs than was the case 30 years ago.

Robert Kelley’s (Carnegie-Mellon University) study with knowledge workers (The New Knowledge Worker: Enabling the Next Generation), found that whilst workers replied ‘75%’ to the question, “What percentage of the knowledge you need to do your job is stored in your mind?” in 1986, by 2006 they replied ‘9%’. This probably reflects the increasing storage of information on offline devices, but increasingly complex work patterns, certainly, also play a role.

A vital aspect of performance support training is that it does not replace existing training. Its whole point is that it acts as a memory jogger for learning already done. Replacing existing and effective training with a bunch of dense and boring PDFs is not a mistake you want to make!

For example. A nurse may appreciate mobile delivered, performance support material that reminds he or she, just when he or she needs it, of all the steps to go through to triage a patient properly. But it is only a supporting function, it does not teach someone how to be a nurse, the regulations, the infection control procedures, drug regimens etc. These issues are addressed in fuller, in-depth learning be that classroom based or eLearning.

Performance support stands and falls on context, brevity and appropriateness. Bite size is the key. There’s no point having a lovely user experience for your performance support information if beyond that what is delivered is huge chunks of information on PDFs.

As always, content is king.

Performance Support as a tool

Mobile learning is powerful and flexible, so it is now the norm that performance support content is more than old content re-hashed - it is new content, new presentation; a useful tool that is a bridge between learning and working. Like all good tools, it can be used again and again and improved and upgraded as your job functions change.

Let’s use as an example, a protocol that you update regularly. The updates are vital for effective performance. In their original training the students were taught how to use the tool and the new updates introduce new functionality to them, reinforcing the value of training. You could even provide updates to business tools, including calculator or solution configuration components of your business’s training. By joining tool updates and training platforms you can keep training relevant and provide further training if needed.

Providing performance support to learners also gives you the ability to manage change. Rather than learners having to search out new information (if they remember), you can push them performance support updates, targeted only to those who need the information. If you have a mobile-enabled Learning Management System (LMS) you can also track who has or has not looked at their new performance support information, and send them reminders if necessary to update their training profiles.

Tim Buff
Author: Tim Buff

This article was published by Tim Buff on 19.01.2016. Tim is CEO and Chief Learning Strategist at Agylia. Tim's role is to help people and companies design and implement digital learning strategies - this often involves pushing boundaries to develop innovative and creative solutions.

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