The anti-course: An instructional job aid

Here’s a short video that shows how we can break our addiction to the course and move training closer to the job. It shows how we can use an instructional reference to help people learn by doing at work.

Click the video once it’s playing to see it bigger on YouTube.

My point: If you’re teaching a process or other practical action, consider creating an instructional job aid that helps learners apply the new process immediately to a real-world task. The mega job aid:

  • Provides the how-to information typical to a job aid
  • Includes the kind of thought-provoking questions and motivational messages often found in a course
  • Emphasizes immediate application of the new process to the real world
  • Takes as long as the real world task requires—it’s not a 30-minute insta-cure

Obviously, you could include this sort of tool in a larger solution that also includes a classroom or online course, mentoring, more extensive social networking, and any other combination of approaches.

The video uses the Elearning Blueprint as an example and references this survey by Chapman Associates.

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  1. Tom Gram says:

    Really nice post and video. I couldn’t agree more. It’s very hard to breakdown those “course” mindsets of our customers (but also, as you and the Chapman research suggest, of ourselves). But once the breakthrough is made it’s a wonderful world. We’ve been trained that learning must include “practice” and it certainly does. But practice can be the actual application of new skills on the job with coaching (electronic or otherwise) to refine the skills over time. This kind of natural practice is more powerful because the feedback from results are very real. A well constructed “macro job aid” is all the guidance many people need to start trying something new and learning from the natural feedback they get from trying it on the job.


  2. Chere says:

    Cathy, I can attest that your macro job aid is very useful, with its combination of reference material and “coaching” supplied along the way. If I found a really great recipe for a meal I want to make, I bring it with me into the kitchen!!!! I don’t leave it in the other room and hope I remember every detail. Especially the first time I make it, I need to look at the recipe over and over again. And that is how I used your elearning blueprint. I read through it, but then as I was creating a course at work, I referred to it constantly. Whenever I got stuck at a particular step, I went to the section about that step in the process, and magically I saw more in your words than I did the first time I read it! As an elearning developer, I really hope to find opportunities to embed training more closely to actual job tasks. It is the only thing that really makes sense. Thanks again for sharing your insight.

  3. Cathy Moore says:

    Chere, thanks for your kind words. It’s good to hear that you’re able to use the blueprint the way I hoped people would use it.

  4. Sage says:

    Agreed. And even more relevant when applied to learning on the go with mobile phones..

  5. Jamie says:

    Thanks for your post on the task specific instructional job aid (The anti-course: An instructional job aid post). As a beginning instructional design student your comments parallel what I have been thinking about as I create training for my employer’s business processes.
    The whole point of training and learning is to make students and employees more valuable to society and the organization. One of the more important things I picked up on in the Walden Organization class (EDUC 6105) was the connection between learning and innovation. Learning and innovation are tools that influence each other and create the ability for an organization to be competitive. The basic relationship between learning and innovation was illustrated by Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn (2008) stating that “the challenge is doing to learn and learning to do” (p. 418). Organizational learning leads to innovation and innovation leads to new and better ways to do things. Finding the best way for a student or employee to learn strengthens the student and ultimately the organization. This is in line with your blog post when you mention moving the training closer to the job and use instructional reference to help people learn by doing. (Moore, 2010)

  6. Jamie says:

    Last spring the company that I work for received a Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) assessment at a maturity level 2 with some level 3 capabilities. CMMI is a Department of Defense (DoD) initiative for contractors that define how companies can use the CMMI framework to define, manage, and improve project management and software development processes. Included in the level 3 capabilities are the process definition, process focus, and organizational training. As the project manager for the change effort and the lead for the organizational training portion I created role-based training for each process. Since the completion and evaluation of the effectiveness of the initial round of process training I started to break the training into smaller units by zeroing in at the activity or task level.

  7. Jamie says:

    This is consistent with your elearning blueprint and action mapping process where you start with the goal to be achieved and map it to the required actions and information (content) needed to achieve it. Any process can be decomposed into activities and tasks with an input-process-output (IPO) flow definition. This IPO mapping would be to your action-activity-information (AAI) flow. The important part of your elearning blueprint is identifying clear, concise business goals mapped to the AAO flow, with the declarative and procedural knowledge needed to execute the flow mapped to this IPO or AAI flow. Also many business processes have job aids defined for their execution that include templates, documents, spreadsheets, tools, and data files. Activity or task specific training could be created and made available on demand.


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