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Lost without a paddle: My journey into the uncharted waters of learning experience design

Anyone looking for L&D jobs over the past few years may have noticed a growing trend – the move away from the label Instructional Designer and move towards Learning Experience Designer.

I experienced this shift first hand after being promoted to Learning Experience Designer within my organization 9 months ago. The move uprooted me from our learning team and placed me right in the middle of our small but mighty cross-functional user experience team.

To say the transition was a challenge is a complete understatement! I very quickly had to begin applying concepts I never encountered before like design thinking, prototyping, and iteration within my content creation process. Despite the initial growing pains, I have now settled firmly into my role in Learning Experience Designer and understand the need for instructional designers to shift to a learning experience design mindset.

What is learning experience design?

I would define Learning Experience Design as the practice of creating learning experiences that enables learners to achieve a desired performance outcome. Learning Experience Design uses an iterative approach that focuses on understanding the users challenges and experiences to design iterative solutions to help solve their needs.

This doesn’t mean limiting learning experiences to formal learning that take place in a school or classroom. Quite the opposite, learning experiences can take place anywhere; at home, while working, or on the go.

Learning Experience Designers focus on the holistic learning experience and what the learner is going through. This means that rather than simply focusing on designing curriculum or instruction, the learning experience designer will consider the learner and everything they’re experiencing. They’ll then use that information to create solutions such as:

  • content (what does the learner need to do in order to perform a task)
  • the look and feel of the learning experience
  • materials
  • communication about the content
  • how the learner interacts with the content

Incorporating learning experience into digital products

If you’re like me, you may not immediately think about learning experience when thinking of the design of digital products. Digital products actually offer a number of learning experiences to customers, ranging from:

  • onboarding
  • learning the interface
  • learning how to interact with the product
  • help & support

Before my jump to LXD, I spent nearly 3 years creating software support content for clients. This ranged from creating help videos, how to articles, getting started guides, and more. During this time, I was often brought in after the software was built to explain to users how to use the system.

My move into learning experience actually transplanted me to the beginning of the design process. Now i’m working on our UX team where we handle designing product concepts that could potentially go within our software platform. This means establishing empathy with our users, gaining an understanding of their problems, and designing solutions to help solve the challenge. My deliverables usually range from creating wireframes, user flows, low fidelity prototypes of product features, and UX content.

I’m very fortunate that my organization is a test bed for new ideas. Since the transition, I’ve been able to work on some pretty exciting projects like designing in-software user onboarding for our beta software, designing wireframes and user flows for new features, and creating support materials for a new beta product.

Overall, the past 9 months have been quite the learning experience. The change taught me how to incorporate design-thinking, user centered design, prototyping, and iteration to my approach. I’ve been forced to think more strategically about getting to the root of a users problem and identify their pain points. This has improved the speed of my design  and allowed me solve our users problems quicker. In a world that is moving faster at every moment, a more strategic and agile design process will be what sets learning design apart from the pack.

Interested in learning more about learning experience? Check out these helpful resources:

Using information mapping to write clearer content

Last month, I sat down with some of my coworkers to officially hand off knowledge base responsibilities. Since transitioning more fully into my LXD role, I haven’t had the bandwidth to manage them anymore. It was a little bitter sweet, but it’s so exciting to see others step up to the plate and expand their skills.

I ended up reviewing some information mapping best practices to get the team more familiar with creating learning content. The session was so energizing! It reminded me of how much I love getting in front of people to share best practices and how much information mapping has helped to craft my content creation process.

What is information mapping?

Information Mapping is a researched based method that helps enable the creation of clear, concise, and focused writing. It allows content creators to put users needs at the forfont of the creation process.

I got trained in the information mapping methodology roughly 2 years ago and it’s helped every type of content I create. Everything from emails, presentations, documentation, help content, knowledge base articles, the sky’s the limit!

Below is an example before and after it went through the information mapping process. As you can see, information mapping can help to make the content more readable and bring important details to the front of the messages you’re crafting.

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Information Mapping – Before and After Example

Getting Started with Information Mapping

You don’t have to go through an information mapping training course to start using it! Here’s some guiding principles to help get you started:

Identify audience needs 

Whenever you’re creating content of any type of content, the first thing you’ll want to do is find out as much as you can about your audience. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Who is the audience?
  • Are there multiple audiences?
  • What do they need to do?
  • What do they need to KNOW in order to do the task?
  • How will they access the information?

audience

Knowing this will help guide the information you present to your users and make sure that it truly resonates with them.

 

Organize information from the user’s perspective

Once you have a better idea of the content the users will need to know,  it’s time to focus on how you’ll actually present it to your audience.

Screen Shot 2018-05-26 at 1.25.56 PMBe sure to present the content in the order the users will need to use it. This often means introducing high level conceptual information first, then drilling down into more detailed content or steps later.Take a book for example; they’re often composed of multiple short chapters, rather than one long chapter of content. Each chunk of content should represent a new idea or topic.

 

Help users find what they need

Now that you’ve got your content down, it’s time to make some improvements to ensure that users can find the content they need.

Whenever I’m writing instructions or documents, I’ll add subheaders or descriptors to the content chunks in my document. The subheading should accurately convey what appears in it’s corresponding section. If the user is looking for something specific in your document, they’ll be able to quickly find what they’re looking for within the content.

Another best practice that i’ll do when writing directions is begin all sentences or steps with action verbs. For example, this means starting software how to’s with words such as “Click”, “Enter”, or “Select”. This puts the action that the user needs perform, front and center, ensuring theres absolutely no guess work on their end.

I’ll also emphasize words of importance by using italics, bold, or using all caps. In some cases, I’ll actually insert tips if something is really important to the user (ex: TIP: Changing this field will change all of your admin settings).

Finally, I’ll add supportive graphics throughout the document to help ensure that I get my point across. This means including pictures of software screens, machinery, or tools, you’re expecting the users to assemble or use.

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Example Instructions from The Predictive Index Knowledge Base

 

Putting it in action 

And that’s it! The next time you sit down to craft content, begin to incorporate some of these best practices to start getting your messages across to your users quicker.  So go on, and get your information mapping on!

 

Overcoming my inner critic: My journey with imposter syndrome

I do not feel knowledgeable enough to do my job, like I’m not moving fast enough. I think I might be overanalyzing everything.

– Roberta Dombrowski, 5/13/18

Chances are if you did a simple search for imposter syndrome, the computer would spit out something similar to the statement above. Reality is, I wrote this in my personal journal over 15 days ago. If you ran into me in the office or on the street, you probably wouldn’t have any idea I was battling this inner critic every second of every day.

 

What is Imposter Syndrome?

First described by Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s, Imposter Syndrome is a phenomenon that occurs in high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their successes. Often times it might mean attributing your accomplishments to luck rather than ability. This might mean living in perpetual fear that others will unmask your abilities, or you’ll be “found out”.

Common signs of imposter syndrome can include perfectionism, overworking, undermining your own achievement, fear of failure, or even discounting praise. For some, it may also be accompanied by depression or anxiety. Lucky me!

 

My Story

Above all, I’m someone who tries to push herself to be the best possible version of herself. I’ve always juggled multiple hats. Whether it meant simultaneously juggling 4 part-time jobs and taking 20+ credits each semester during undergrad or currently working full time and completing my masters part-time. I am not satisfied with good enough or average. I want to know that I’m giving 110% to whatever it is I’m doing.

If I’m being honest, I have to admit I’ve always juggled this determination with feelings of self-doubt or lack of confidence in my own abilities. I’ve always felt out of place or that I’ve had to try harder than others. I’ve never seen my accomplishments as something to be proud of. But every once in a while when I’m not judging myself, I’m able to take a step back and appreciate the journey that I’m on.

My most recent experience with imposter syndrome was triggered by my promotion to Learning Experience Designer roughly 8 months ago. This transition meant moving from the learning team to the UX team within my organization. The change marked a huge shift in my way of thinking. It also impacted who I interact with on a daily basis and what I’m responsible for.  I’ve had to jump head first into creating UX designs for our software platform with little knowledge of what makes a good user experience. For months, I’ve felt like a fraud, like I didn’t know enough to do my job well, or how I even got to where I am.

It wasn’t until most recently that I’ve started talking about my struggles with others. In all of my discussions and research, I’ve found out that I’m not the only one who deals with these feelings of being an imposter on a daily basis.

 

Tips for overcoming imposter syndrome

If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, the good news is that there are strategies to help identify, combat, and manage it. Below are some helpful tips that I’ve discovered throughout my journey with imposter syndrome.

 

Identify the cause

Whats shaking your confidence? Is it your new job? Is it that interview or job search you’re going through? That big presentation you have coming up?

In my case, the answer was pretty obvious – I felt like I didn’t have enough knowledge to do my job correctly. Think long and hard about what your cause might be. It’s most likely the skills you’re selling yourself short on when talking to others.

 

Talk to someone

Now that you have a better idea of what’s causing the feelings, take a deep breath and talk to someone about it. There’s nothing like getting an outside perspective to gain a better understanding of how you really are doing. This person will be able to help identify what fears are irrational and remind you of your strengths and areas for improvement.

I’m very blessed in the fact that I’m surrounded by loving and supportive people inside and outside of work. One of the most enlightening discussions I had over the past few weeks was with my manager. He was able to show me some things I wasn’t able to see through the fog.

 

Stop trying to achieve perfection

Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham describe the quest for perfection superbly in their book, The Spirituality of Imperfection:

“For to be human is to be incomplete, yet yearn for completion; it is to be uncertain, yet long for certainty; to be imperfect, yet long for perfection; to be broken, yet crave wholeness. All these yearnings remain necessarily unsatisfied, for perfection, completion, certainty, and wholeness are impossible precisely because we are imperfectly human – or better, because we are perfectly human, which is to say humanly imperfect.”

One of the few things that are truly guaranteed in life is the fact that humans are imperfect. Rather than struggling to achieve perfection, focus on the value you bring to the table. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, this is probably the most difficult. I frequently have to remind myself on a daily basis that perfection is the enemy of experience and I’m doing the best that I can.

 

Own your story and stop comparisons

Too often we fall into the trap of comparing our weaknesses with the strengths of others. We tell ourselves “If I could just be as good at presentations as Jennifer” or “Why can’t I be as creative as James?”. These comparisons are subjective, biased, and unhelpful.

Shift your perspective to think about what your unique qualities are. What are you good at that others are not? After opening up to a good friend about my struggles with not feeling like I knew enough, he suggested that I try using one of my most powerful traits, intuition. It was a watershed moment for me. For someone who trusts their gut above anything else, why was I overanalyzing everything and hell-bent on researching new theories?  I was afraid of failing and thought that learning more or knowing more could help. It wasn’t until I started to own my own story and trust my own abilities that I started to feel more confident in myself and what I already brought to the table.

 

A new beginning

It takes courage to admit you’re feeling a certain way and decide to open yourself up to make a change. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy but I promise it’ll be worth it. It wasn’t until I decided to own my story that I’ve become more confident in my path and where I’m headed. So what’re you waiting for? You’ve got this!

Catch me if you can: A midyear check-in

Spring time is in full effect here in Providence, RI!

The first half of the year has proven to be quite busy. Just within the past month, I finished up my spring semester and moved my entire apartment to the East Side of Providence, RI.

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Yep, you heard that right! My month off in between classes was no cake walk. I traded in my solo apartment in Pawtucket, RI and took a leap to the city. During the transition, I also took a hard look at the 2018 goals I set up for myself. I realized I’ve already completed roughly 65% of them and it’s not even the end of May! To say i’m exhausted is an understatement.

So, whats up next?

As I start to look at the second half of the year, I’m beyond excited to see what’s in store.

Next week, I’ll be starting an Advanced Instructional Design course (my last class to complete my Workplace eLearning and Performance Support certificate with Boise State)! The class will focus on incorporating user experience practices like journey mapping, personas, and prototyping into the learning design process. If it sounds right up my alley, thats because it is! The past 8 months have been a huge transition to my LXD role, so i’m excited to learn more about theories and gain more confidence in the work that i’m doing.

Another focus for the coming months will be slowing down, reflecting, and creating. I hope to redesign my personal website, write more, and do all the artsy stuff I used to have more time for.

So heres to a rocking start to 2018. I can’t wait to see where we all end up in the next few months!

My Love Affair with Task Analysis

My name is Roberta and I have a confession to make. I LOVE doing task analyses. I’m not even sure exactly when this love affair started. It makes sense when I really stop to think about it.  I’ve always loved processes, procedures, and organizing things. What better way to get my perfectionist tendencies out by writing laundry lists of instructions?

In fact, if you stop by my desk at any given time of the day, you’ll be sure to find a giant note to-do list written in order of how I plan to get things done. Now, I’m not advocating for my Type A tendencies by any means. My perfectionism can get me into a lot of trouble – it slows me down and makes me hyper focus on things that don’t matter. It’s also one of the many reasons why I’ve gained such an expertise with task analysis that have proven to be pivotal in my role as an instructional designer and now as a user experience designer.

What exactly is a task analysis?

A task analysis is exactly what it sounds like! It’s when you analyze a task in order to document step by step how it’s completed.

It might seem straight forward but even the simplest of things are very complex. I find that as soon as I start breaking things down into steps, there’s way more involved in a process or procedure than I originally thought.

A Multipurpose Tool

Task Analysis have become a mainstay in the instructional designers toolbox. Why? Instructional designers create training on how to do something and task analysis tell you the steps to do it.

I created a ton of task analysis when I was writing help articles for The Predictive Index help center a few years ago. Since I’ve moved into user experience, I’ve noticed task analysis popping up again but in a slightly different way.

User Experience Design is all about creating products. UX Designers will perform task analysis to gain an understanding of how users are performing tasks within their products, websites, or apps. This then enables a UX Designer to figure out where help might be needed or allow them to improve an existing feature or functionality. Since becoming a Learning Experience Designer, I find myself doing task analysis the most during requirements gathering. I’ll also use them when creating prototypes, wireframes, and performing usability tests.

A Simple Equation

Writing task analysis are super simple! Let’s look at some easy steps to help get you started.

Identify the task – The first thing you’ll want to do is identify the task you want to analyze. Tasks could include a process or procedure that someone does in order to perform. This could be anything from sending an email to tying your shoes. When picking a task to analyze you’ll want to be sure you describe it with an action verb.

Break down the task into subtasks – Next you’ll want to break your main task down into smaller chunks of the main task. These should be short, and again start with an action verb.

Identify steps in the subtasks – Finally, you’ll want to identify and list the steps for each of your subtasks. You can do this by breaking down the actions of the subtasks and placing them in chronological order. You’ll want to find a balance between providing users with just the right amount of information – not too much and not too little. Again, begin each subtask step with an action verb.

Below is an example of a task analysis from the University of Strathclyde. The analysis walks through the process of warming up a furnace. As you can see, when you begin to write out the steps you can see that there is more involved than one might think. It’s important to note that the university also did their task analysis in a flow diagram format. This format can be helpful to visually display a users flow to the audience.

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University of Strathclyde, Management Science Dept., Wikimedia. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Overall, task analysis are one of the most powerful tools in a learning and user experience designers toolbox.  Keep in mind when creating a task analysis, they should always be performed from the users perspective. It’s so easy to get started using a task analysis in your practice and once you do, you might find yourself in a love affair of your own!

Using Design Thinking to Craft Learning Experiences

Last month I was fortunate to attend a Design Thinking workshop with the eLearning guru Connie Malamed. After reading Connie’s blog for over 8 years  I was beyond psyched for the opportunity to meet her in person!

The workshop was absolutely wonderful (as expected) and really helped cement many of the ideas I have been implementing over the past 6 months in my new learning experience role. It opened my eyes to how important design thinking is and where some of the crossovers between Learning Experience and User Experience are as a whole.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a strategy that became popularized by Tim Brown, David M Kelly, and Roger Martin. It focuses on using a structured human-centered approach to solving problems. It’s gained popularity over the years as businesses began adopting it to respond to growing trends, gain a better understanding of consumers and try to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Using Design Thinking in your Learning Practice

Over the years many variations of Design Thinking that have emerged. This became even more apparent when looking for a graphic to represent the framework. If you simply do a quick google search of Design Thinking you’ll find thousands of graphics showing different steps and processes.

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to focus on the variation of Design Thinking that Connie emphasized in her workshop. I think it’s a great fit for anyone who is looking to use design thinking in their learning practice.

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EMPATHY

The design process should always start with empathy. This means trying to gain insight and perspective of your target audience. For learning practitioners, this might mean the learners who attend your instructor led training courses, virtual trainings, or watching your eLearning videos. This stage is similar to your traditional audience analysis. Whoever your audience is, try to gain a deeper understanding of their world by putting yourself in their shoes. The best way to gain empathy is to connect with learners directly. You can do this by performing user research in the form of interviews, observations, creating user personas or empathy maps.

 

DEFINE

The next step in the design thinking process is to define the problem your learner is having. You’ll want to look at your findings from your research and see if any patterns begin to emerge. For example, are all of your learners encountering the same problem? Are they feeling a specific way about something?

Once you’ve identified common trends you’ll want to distill all of your findings down into a problem statement or performance goal. You’ll use this to focus on when designing an effective solution.

 

IDEATE

Once you’ve defined the learners problem is when the fun starts to happen! Ideation is when you start to generate possible solutions for your learners performance problem. As an introvert, I tend to do some some of my best thinking alone first then i’ll gather a group of my coworkers and guide a brainstorm session.

While brainstorming, I’ll usually ask others to write their ideas down on post it notes and put them on a white board. Once everyones done writing their ideas we’ll create an affinity diagram and group solutions with common themes together. From there we’ll discuss all of the ideas and pick one or two to create a prototype from.

 

PROTOTYPE

Next, you’ll want to take your the final ideas that you generated with your team and create a prototype. A prototype is a simple and inexpensive model of the ideas you selected.  Prototypes are awesome for testing out your ideas with your users without investing tons of money and resources before you’ve determined whether the solution is successful or not! In other words, it’s a great way to fail quickly.

Depending upon your solution, your prototype could be a paper sketch, exercise, case study, storyboard, wireframe, or interaction concept.

 

TEST

Once you have a prototype, you’ll want to return to your users to solicit feedback. Test out your prototypes and observe how they respond, interact, and their overall experience with it. Be sure to test your prototypes on more than one person.

Don’t worry if your prototype absolutely failed – you’re not meant to get it right on the first try! It’s highly likely that you’ll have to do a few cycles of iterating your prototype and refining your ideas. Once you’ve refined the prototype and you’re confident with how your users are responding to it is when you’ll want to start bringing it to life!

 

Putting it Together

Since leaving the workshop – I realized that I’ve been using Design Thinking in my new role without even realizing it. I feel more confident than ever applying the new methodology to my projects. I actually think i’m actually going through ideation and prototyping faster because of attending the workshop.

For those in the world of learning incorporating Design Thinking into your practice can help eliminate costly development efforts and increase the likelihood that your learning solutions will meet the needs of your users. I definitely recommend trying it out when working on your next project.

Lessons Learned from Learning Solutions 2018

This week I attended The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, FL and as expected it was a fantastic event! For those who haven’t attended a Learning Solutions conference before, it is usually a 3 day event where practitioners in the industry gather to discuss industry trends, best practices, and tips and tricks. On top of all of that, the guild also offers 2 days of pre-conference workshops for those looking to expand their skills even more.

Overall, I’m a big fan of the guild events – its a great opportunity to connect with others in the industry and see what others are working on. Whenever I attend one of their events, I always come back with a flash of insight that i’m not the only one struggling with the problems I’m encountering and I’m doing a lot better off than I think I am. This trip was no exception! Below are some of the highlights from my trip:

 

Design Thinking Workshop with Connie Malamad

After fangirling about Connie’s blog for about 6 years or so now, I was so excited to attend her workshop Using Design Thinking to Craft Learning Experiences. It was the perfect workshop to attend given my recent transition into a learning experience role.

Throughout the workshop, she introduced the Standford’s d.school process for design thinking (Empathy, Define, Ideation, Prototype, Test) and gave each group a case study on how to move through the process. Overall, I left the workshop feeling much more confident about all the work I’ve been doing over the past few months and excited about how learning practitioners can incorporate design thinking into their process.

Connie was amazing – she has such a great presence that allows her to quickly connect to everyone and she’s absolutely hilarious!  I cant wait to catch up with her at a future event. I definitely recommend one of her sessions for anyone who is able to attend!

 

Adopting the Performance Support Mindset 

One of my personal goals for the year was to get out of my introvert cave and on Tuesday I got to step into the teacher role and share my love for performance support with a group of about 50+ attendees.

The session was an absolute blast! The group had a ton of great questions about how to get started with performance support in their organizations and I was able to share some of the examples we’ve been crafting over the past 2.5 at The Predictive Index.

My slides are available on Slideshare to anyone who missed out on the session.

 

Industry Trends

Overall, I attended about 15+ sessions over a span of 3 days and noticed some trends occurring in the industry:

Learning Practitioners are starting to use design thinking in their practice

There was a lot of talk about using design thinking in learning practices. I am seeing design thinking being used as a tool to become empathetic with learners and gain a greater understanding of their pain points. Once we have this, we’ll be able to design  better learning solutions that truly meet their needs. I also am seeing a rise of practitioners using design thinking to create some rapid prototypes so they’re able to easily iterate on their solutions. It’s no longer about getting something out the door as quickly as possible, but revisiting and updating solutions to make solutions are continuing to meet learners needs.

 

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There is a rise of simpler learning platforms

It should come as no surprise that everyone hates their LMS. This Learning Solutions, I  heard a lot of talk from practitioners about using simpler technology to get their content out to learners in a more user friendly way.  I’ve heard people using everything from WordPress to emailing courses to learners in a “marketing drip campaign” fashion.

 

Performance support can help learners continue their learning

I also saw a number of sessions and received questions from practitioners curious about how they can ensure learners continue learning once they’ve left the classroom. It’s definitely apparent that people are becoming more aware of the benefits of performance support and how solutions such as job-aids, knowledge bases, checklists, how to’s, etc. can help reinforce learning after the fact.

 

Overall, Learning Solutions was such a great experience. I am so grateful for the experiences and new friends that I’ve made over the past week. I can also say from the bottom of my heart that I’m very much looking forward to returning back to my introvert cave and cuddling with my cat. Until next time my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

Adopting a Performance Support Mindset: Defining your PS Strategy

In my first article of the Performance Support series, I suggested that the way that people are learning has changed. Gone are the days of learners having the ability to take off of work to attend multi-day training sessions. We’re now in an era of instant gratification where learners are finding content in a quick video or 160 character tweet. This means as learning practitioners we have to move towards a more performance support based mindset that emphasizes giving learners the right amount of support, complexity, and detail right at the time when they need it most.

Adopting Performance Support is not going to happen overnight, its a long journey that can take years to implement within your organization.

 

Creating a Performance Support Strategy

After attending the eLearning Guild’s Performance Support Symposium in 2015, I was all fired up and ready to start implementing it within my organization. I learned very quickly that this would not be an easy feat.

I knew that I had to start somewhere so I started to break things down into smaller steps. Before I knew it I had developed an entire strategy around Performance Support.

Below are just a few items to consider when starting to implement performance support:

Creating a PS Strategy

Business Objectives

Its very likely that performance support is a new concept that you will be introducing to your organization. In any case, you will need to relate it to your businesses overall objectives and goals.

Some questions to consider might include:

  • What problem is the organization trying to solve?
  • Whats the overall goal?
  • How does PS help you reach that goal?

 

Audience

Performing an audience or learner analysis is one of the most important steps a learning practitioner can take. It will give you a better idea of your learner’s background (education, demographics, skills, etc) and allow you to shape your message in a way that resonates with them.

Some questions to consider might include:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What are their needs?
  • What do they know?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What tasks do they have to do to perform?

 

Stakeholders

Getting stakeholder buy-in within organizations is a gift! I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful mentor at The Predictive Index who could truly get anyone behind her ideas.

Some items to identify include:

  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • How involved will they be?
  • How do you plan to get their buy-in?

 

SMEs

Next, you will need to think about who your subject matter experts are and how you’ll be working with them.

Consider:

  • Who are the SMEs?
  • How often will you be interacting with them?
  • How will you be meeting with them?
  • Will they be reviewing content?

 

Content

We all know that content is king! You should begin to think not only about the content you will be creating but also any historic content that you may be using.

Think about:

  • What type of historic content will you be dealing with?
  • What type of content will you be creating?
  • How will learners get access to the content?
  • How will you keep track of your learning content?

 

Workflow

Now that you have a better idea of the content you will be creating, it’s time to think about the design and development process you may be using.

Review:

  • What is your workflow for creating content?
  • Will you have reviews?
  • How will you deal with change management?

 

Technology

Technology not only impacts your development process but it can also impact how your learners as well.

Examine:

  • What type of technology will your learners have?
  • What type of expertise do your learners have with technology?
  • What type of tools will you be using?
  • Do you have to purchase any new tools?

 

Success

I know many training programs that have failed because they never identified what success looks like. This will vary across organizations based on the businesses larger goals and objectives. Be sure to identify success at the beginning of your project, this will help to prove it’s worth over time:

  • What does success look like?
  • What types of evaluation will you use to measure your performance support?
  • What type of metrics will you gather?

Again, the above list are recommendations on how to get started with performance support within your organization. Remember, every company is different! You may have a variety of things you might have to consider that I haven’t mentioned. But this list should help you hit the ground running!

Ready to learn more?

Check out my Adopting the Performance Support Mindset session this month at Learning Solutions.

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Adopting a Performance Support Mindset: The 5 Moments of Learning Need

It should come as no surprise that the way that people are choosing to learn has changed.

Gone are the days of attending multiple days of training to learn a new skill or software program. Instead, learners are looking up content when they need it most.

If I think about all the ways that I learned something over the past few months, I could rattle off a list of answers ranging from articles, books, and videos. Just a few weeks ago when I was putting together a new bookcase for my home office, I quickly flipped through the instructions and put it together in less than 30 minutes. Does this mean I’m doing to become Rhode Island’s Next Top Carpenter? Not a chance! But I did learn just enough to get the task done.

Performance Support Defined

The eLearning Guild defines performance support as “a tool or other resource ranging from print to technology- supported, which provides just the right amount of task guidance, support and productivity benefits to the user, precisely at the moment of need”.

In other words, performance support is a resource available at the moment of need that makes it easier for people to perform. Performance Support is not about teaching someone EVERYTHING there is to know about something; rather it’s about giving them the right amount of support, complexity, or detail right at the time they need it.

This might seem like a new framework to some, but performance support has actually been around for decades in the form of checklists, job-aids, help articles, process diagrams, recipes, you name it.

How to get into the Performance Support Mindset

Two years ago, I read Bob Mosher’s and Con Gottfredson’s book Innovative Performance Support.  The book provides a framework based on the 5 moments of learning need.

The 5 moments of learning need

  1. NEW: When learning something for the first time.
  2. MORE: When you’re seeking to learn more about something.
  3. APPLY: When trying to apply or remember something or adapt performance to a unique situation.
  4. SOLVE: When attempting to solve a problem or deal with something that has gone wrong.
  5. CHANGE: When something changes that requires a change in how work gets done.

The first 2 moments focus on the learner’s knowledge acquisition, whether this means training people on processes, procedures, or concepts for the first time or expanding upon their existing knowledge. The remaining moments of need shift to learners applying their knowledge, solving issues, or adapting to change. It’s helpful to keep in mind, that you would provide a learner with different content and information based on their moment of need. For example, if the learner is trying to solve a problem with a software program they might contact a service desk or read a help article. On the other hand, if they’re learning about an updated sales procedure, the learner may watch a video about the changed process.

Now, think about the 5 moments of learning need and where you may encounter them within your own lives. As you begin to think about the framework, I have a feeling you’ll be amazed with how frequently the moments come up within your day to day tasks.

In my next article, I’ll cover considerations about developing performance support and how to get buy in within your organization.

Ready to learn more?

Check out my Adopting the Performance Support Mindset session at Learning Solutions in March.

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New Year, New Goals: A Look into 2018

Believe it or not 2018 is finally here.

I rang in the year at a New Year’s Spiritual Renewal Retreat at Kripalu and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I disconnected from my phone for 60+ hours and went through some rejuvenating yoga, meditation, and reiki sessions. And of course, I also got to chow down on some tasty organic food!

Now that i’m feeling refreshed, i’m ready to hit the ground running into 2018.

2017 was an exciting year.

What a busy time – I juggled a full time job and second year in my masters program all while trying to have a personal life. I traveled more than usual (Seattle, San Diego, Buffalo, Bennington, and Cape Cod). I became an aunt for the first time and even became a first time Cat mom!

2018 will bring more growth:

One of my major goals for this year is to use my voice more. This means writing (whether it be articles, tweeting, etc) and talking about all of the learning yumminess i’ve been practicing over the past few years.

It also means hitting the road to present at conferences. I’ll be heading to Orlando to present at Learning Solutions and Seattle for ISPI’s Annual Conference.

Another major goal is to continue practicing blending UX and Learning Design. During October of last year, I was fortunate enough to move into a Learning Experience Design role at my company. This introduced me to the world of wireframes, prototypes, design concepts, user personas, and much more.

Overall, i’m really excited to see where 2018 takes me and i’m wishing everyone a healthy and happy year ahead!