Performance Support: the training that your learners really want. And expect.
The concept of “performance support” is not new to the field of instructional design. Even when I was just starting in my training profession, creating a Job Aide or Quick Reference Guide (both valid performance support tools) was a natural and normal extension from the more detailed training material. However, technology has changed what our learners expect in terms of performance support and is still changing what an “electronic performance support system” can (and should) be.
Let’s start with the easy part first: technology and our learners expectations. The availability of internet access and sites like Google and YouTube, have made our learners to expect getting instant access and answers to performance support related materials when they need it (i.e., moment of need). Twenty years ago, my learners would literally “ooh” and “aah” when I provided them with a nicely formatting, targeted, and laminated 2-page Job Aide at the end of a training session. Those days are very due to the learners expectations. They want to be able to easily search for and fine the content that they want; they expect this information to be online. You might be able to get an “ooh” or “aah” if you can also provide that information in an app, but not a laminated printout.
As for technology and it’s capabilities to provide performance support solutions, there time is arrived. Multiple vendors like Ontuitive, Panviva, and tts offer robust electronic performance support solutions. In addition to learners being able to access the available content online, whenever they want or need the information, these solutions offer “context specific” support based on the screen and even to exact field the person is on when the ask for help during the course of the person’s job.
Now, although these vendor solutions are impressive, they can also be expensive, and not always needed. There are always alternatives. In the workplace today, tools like Sharepoint are omnipresent and can often be leveraged to provide your learners with an effective solution based on your requirements; not the right answer for “everything” but a possible answer for many things.
The keys when designing a performance support system are to consider and address as many elements of Gloria Gery’s definition from her 1991 book Electronic Performance Support Systems:
“Performance support is an orchestrated set of technology-enabled services that provides on-demand access to integrated information, guidance, assistance, and training to enable high-level job performance with a minimum of support from other people”.
It is amazing to me, how relevant and applicable this definition from over 25 years ago is still today within the corporate learning landscape.
Listed below is a brief performance support presentation that was designed and delivered as part of a live “introduction” to performance support. Although you will miss out on hearing me live, this should provide you with a baseline understanding of what performance support is and what it do can for your learners and you.