Job aids are part of the overall concept of Performance Support and there are many arguments for creating job aids before you even consider building learning material. For one thing, people will use it in the moment they need it, so there’s no need to work on it being engaging or motivating – the motivation is already there. There’s no need to rely on memory, which is inherently unreliable – as long as the job aid is easily accessible people will go back to it as often as they need it. And that same fact gives it a longer useful lifetime than learning material, which gives you more result for your investment. However good your elearning is, it’s likely to be a one-off experience; performance support might be used again and again for years.
There are lots of kinds of performance support of course, but the kinds that work best here are ones that are simple. Either a step by step procedure, a description of a process, or a decision flowchart. Something that won’t occupy the learner’s attention for so long that they’ve forgotten where they were in the scenario.
It’s best if the job aid can exist outside the learning module, accessed by a link opening a new window. In many organisations getting into an elearning course is a convoluted business. If it’s six months since you took the module and you vaguely remember there was that useful infographic in it, are you really going to wade through LMS registration screens and then page through the introductory screens of a module before you even get to a menu you can use to find the job aid?
So keep the job aid somewhere else, where it can be easily found in the heat of the moment. Of course if the job aid already exists so much the better – use it in the scenario and make one of the learning points of the scenario that people should know about and refer to the job aid. And don’t assume the job aid has to be online – it could be a piece of cardboard on your desk or a poster on the wall!
Here’s an example of a scenario question with two types of job aid available – a duplicate of a poster ( just in case the poster isn’t up where the elearning is being done), and link to a Standard Operating Procedure. There’s also an Ask Compliance link which may go to an FAQ or searchable site.
That means that the job aid isn’t something you just refer to at the end – it’s an integral part of the scenario all the way through and you remind the learner of its existence on every screen where it would help.
Now we’ve covered the 14 steps of Designing Predicaments. This is all about the thinking you need to make the story of the scenario work. In another series I’ll talk more about the building of scenarios and how you put all this storytelling into an authoring tool. But I hope this has been useful – please let me know how to make it more useful – email firstname.lastname@example.org