Many training departments today are incorporating performance support tools, including the use of micro video, into their arsenals to help their employees perform the work required of their positions. The effective development of this type of solution requires us to re-think the traditional training model. In this article, I’ll explain why. Then, I’ll give you some tips and tricks I’ve used for the past 6 years as I have developed my own performance support video system comprised of more than 120 individual videos.
Think of a traditional classroom setting. What are some characteristics of traditional training? When does learning occur? When are the skills applied? If your sessions are like most anyone else’s, your learners may feel like they’re drinking from a firehose. For software training, they may receive a bulky manual outlining all of the software’s features along with step-by-step instructions for performing the myriad of tasks they will be required to do once training is complete. They learn, then they do. Learning occurs first. Only after that do the learners apply the new skills back on the job. Along the way, we hope as instructors that the ‘a-ha’ moment occurs at some point during the training.
But what if we could flip that model? What if we could give learners the tools necessary to immediately perform the duties of their position, even before receiving any type of formal training? What if we could develop a system so that learning follows doing rather than precedes it? That’s exactly what performance support is. It’s breaking down a job into its individual tasks, then providing some type of tool to help the worker complete that task. The skills can be applied immediately.
In 2000, I developed my first EPSS (electronic performance support system.) I had developed an intense two-week training session in which I taught coding technicians how to code 18 different transactions into an HR software program. I broke down the two weeks into 18 “chunks.” During each of these chunks, I presented some brief conceptual information about the transaction we would be coding, demonstrated how to code it, and then gave learners some examples which they needed to code into our training database. When the learners completed their training, they returned to their desks with their cumbersome 3-inch thick binders and we turned them loose on the software. After I developed the EPSS, I was able to reduce the two-week training program to three days. We then spent two days of practice using those same simulations I had developed for the two-week course. I gave them the practice they needed on using the performance support video solution. Accuracy rates of coding increased by nearly 20% for new coders evaluated after 90 days on the job. In other words, their performance was higher even though they spent fewer hours in the classroom.
Performance support walks users through a process. They do. And as they do, or even after they do, they learn. The a-ha moment occurs not during the training, but rather back on the job.
I am currently involved in a multi-year project in which we are developing more than 120 short performance support videos to help learners work through some very complex processes. When we conducted focus groups after releasing our first batch of videos, we learned that since most of our users have two monitors, they have the actual software program open on one monitor, with one of our videos open on the other. They’ll watch a step of the video, pause it, then complete that step in the software program. Then they’ll resume the video, pause it, and complete the next step, and so on.
Most processes require a number of steps to complete. You begin with step 1 and complete each step until the result is achieved. Each step can vary in the amount of time each takes to perform, as well as the complexity of what is to be done to accomplish that step. For each step, you will want to consider using an individual performance support video.
In my next article, I’ll share with you how I make these videos available to learners and the various roles required to build an effective performance support video solution. We’ll then look at the process of building a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and break it into its steps. From that, we’ll develop a shot list so we can begin developing our video system.