What this performance model means for the provision of learning support in organisations So taking the performance lens to typical learning challenges, let’s finish with looking at performance in context. To do this, I have broken down performance in a more contextual way and applied our model to each situation of the following contexts: Performance rehearsal, performance analysis, performance catalyst Today, we’ll take a look at performance rehearsal. Examples: This could range from preparing someone for their first managerial role through to highly complex skills, such as designing major structural engineering projects, conducting medical procedures, flight training etc Conditions: This requires clear communication about expectations for a given role, understanding of core work activities (i.e. the processes, tools, inputs and outputs), transfer of knowledge, mentoring, practice opportunities aligned to typical work challenges and scenarios to develop a realistic and fully aligned view of what levels of performance are needed. Where these skills are complex, rare or safety critical, investment in creating the right conditions is a much easier case to make (think flight training) but there are other areas where a safe place to explore skills acquisition can benefit, such as first time management challenges. From an organisational culture perspective, leaders need to endorse time for people to invest in development, recognise and value contributions to supporting rehearsal (though capturing and sharing case studies, volunteering as a mentor or peer reviewer, contribute as a subject matter expert into formal content development). Goal setting: For those with clear outcomes (such as engineering projects, flight deck, medical etc) it is likely that well defined measurement is in place already and that number of incidents, speed of project delivery, budget, errors, quality etc can be tracked. This can be integrated into your performance dashboard and over time, you can track these numbers. However for topics such as leadership, the measures can be quite subjective and a great outcome can mean different things is different contexts. That’s where a value chain can be very useful; its a worthwhile exercise in which to engage, not only for the purposes of defining measures but its also a great tool for senior team buy in. Community: Mentoring is relevant here, but there are other community activities that can be beneficial. Peer assists are a great way for teams of people to test hypothesis, present ideas and explore options, with the support of ‘critical friends’ who, in a facilitated environment, will encourage the team to scenario plan, work through alternatives and refine their plans. Communities are also a fertile ground for gathering business stories that can be used to build realistic and credible scenarios. Tools and Tech: For complex, highly specialist settings, investment in VR could be a viable option. Creating physical simulations of some of these tasks has been the only way to create a realistic environment but advances in VR technology are bridging that gap. It may never replace it entirely, but speed to competency and high performance could be accelerated. Collaborative platforms with effective search capabilities help Responsive content can enable scenario base content to be delivered across platforms but its worth considering the screen real estate of each device and how detailed an interaction you can achieve. However, there is a great role here for mobile in the continuum of performance rehearsal into application, through reinforcing learning with refreshers, quick exercises and top tips at the point of need. People: Facilitators to support and nurture communities are key roles here – connecting experts to novices, gathering insights to build realistic scenarios, orchestrate and facilitate peer reviews are just some of the key activities they can support. Experts in content development with specialism in interactive scenarios, video storyboarding and production can be useful here. VR simulation development houses are growing all the time (we at WillowDNA work with virtual environment and VR specialists, Immerse Learning). Learning professionals need to ensure they are aware of progress in these areas and most major conferences will provide demonstrations and examples of new tools. It goes without saying the leaders and budget holders will need to be supportive here but getting buy in requires well informed learning professionals who can tap into good case studies and examples from other organisations. Next, we’ll take a look at performance analysis.
Subscribers to our newsletter have given us some great feedback on our report on this year’s learning survey from CIPD. It was a great opportunity for us to share how Willow address the challenges of online learning in context, so we thought we’d share it with you as well.
Very interested to read the BBC News story last week on a paper published in the Lancet recently. It explores the delivery of online therapeutic solutions to teenagers suffering chronic fatigue syndrome. What is particularly interesting is that the intervention used was a form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered online with access to an expert via discussion boards. With the severe shortage of qualified CBT therapists, it is an exciting way to increase the access to this valuable technique. Being a psychology graduate, it’s really exciting to read, given the proven benefits of CBT as an intervention compared to other therapeutic or pharmacological treatment packages. So if online could provide a highly effective delivery mechanism, this could be very significant indeed.
In conjunction with our one day workshop ‘5 days to success: great online learning in just one week’ on 29th March 2012 at Southwark Cathedral, London, we are giving away a guide a week over the next 5 weeks. These guides will help you plan, develop and launch great online learning in just 5 days, using techniques from Willow’s Learning Pathway approach. By taking e-learning out of the box, you can take even the most complex subjects online. Our free guides will help support some of the most important activities to complete in order to develop a great learning design, create great learning resources and encourage great learner interaction. To get your free guides, sign up here. You’ll also find more information on our workshop and how to book your place here.
There are many things I could thank my father for (such as my Irish heritage that fuels my ability for endless conversation and unstoppable need to bake as soon as I know someone might be visiting!) but for today, I will focus on how his influence has shaped my career in online learning. In many ways, my father was exactly what you would have expected of an engineer – logical, systematic, considered and of course, kept the toolshed meticulously organised! But as I set off to write an article on the art and science online learning design, it put me in mind of why he was both a great engineer and mentor and how the skills he needed are the ones needed in my line of work also. He knew the difference between theory and practice, when to apply trusted techniques and when to employ creative problem solving. He understood that each project stood on it’s own merit – a career forged in the forces was a great education in understanding how each situation requires a solution fit for the environment, not straight out the handbook. So as some food for thought, these are just a few of the things that I, the psychologist and learning designer learnt from my father, the engineer! 1. Know your terrain – a career forged in some of the most politically challenging locations meant my father ensured he was knowledgable in current affairs. A keen appreciation of the political environment you are entering is vital – the over eager puppy that lurks in all those passionate about the possibilities of online learning needs to be reined in from time to time! Early conversations are needed to understand where the starting point is. What is the prior experience of online learning?(the good, the bad and the ugly!) What learning resources are well used, what have struggled to take off? How collaborative is the organisation, is knowledge sharing common or are territories closely guarded? Quickly and poorly executed e-learning can leave bad memories for some time. Creating confidence in the journey you are going to take together is a vital step. 2. In guiding apprentices, it’s about facilitating learning, not proving what you know. My father was never one for the fuss and bother of an officers life and chose to take his promotion in the form of teaching – passing on his experience through mentoring apprentices. It stood him in good stead for stroppy teenagers reluctant to buckle down to revision! Pouring over science textbooks, one equation merging into the other, my father never took the shortcut in helping with my revision. He would ask me questions, use analogy, encourage me to apply concepts to a practical problem. There was so much to learn, so overwhelming – his gift was in signposting, helping build the skills to understand and relate theory to things I was interested in, not to learn an answer by rote. In the world of online learning, there’s so much we could learn, so many resources, no end of user generated content. Our skill is in creating learning scaffolds where learners are provided with the foundations that they can then build on, apply their experience to put things in context, make concepts come alive. 3. Tools that suit your environment – just like me, my father was something of a nerd yet as much as he would have been the first to adopt a new piece of gadgetry, he knew that when out in the jungle, the new ultra sensitive diagnostic tool may not respond well to 100% humidity! Just because a tool exists doesn’t mean it’s suitable – there’s plenty on offer out there and that in itself creates problems. Your client may be adamant that they must offer an iPad app or develop a fully immersive virtual world style simulation, often feeling under pressure to prove their online credentials. This is born of a lack of confidence and is remedied by your ability to keep learning outcomes at the top of the agenda.
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