Timely Is All About Giving The Learners What They Need, When They Need It

Devon recently graduated from a vocational school and landed his first “real” job—he’s a field service technician for a home appliance company. Devon's new employer provided him with a phased onboarding experience. During the first two months, he completed eLearning courses to gain foundational knowledge on all of the company’s products. He also spent time studying a 100-page technical manual. Then, he was paired with a seasoned technician, Ted, and shadowed him in the field for four months. After six months of onboarding, he was ready to complete service calls on his own! Devon shows up for his first repair on a BR54-9 dryer. He only helped Ted make repairs on this model twice. He can’t remember where to start! His training covered this, but there were a lot of details. If he starts paging through the reference manual or calls for help, it’s going to take longer to finish the repair.

No matter how good Devon’s initial training was, he will need guidance or additional information to do the job right—at least, until he becomes more comfortable in his role.

eBook Release: 7 Better Learning Principles For Custom eLearning
eBook Release
7 Better Learning Principles For Custom eLearning
Convince your stakeholders that it's in the organization’s best interest to produce eLearning that is interactive and focused on the learners' performance

This is where Timely resources come into play. Remember the theory of cognitive apprenticeship, especially the idea of scaffolding? The key is to gradually take away assistance until Devon can complete the task on his own. Scaffolding in the form of performance support resources will help Devon build expertise and confidence over time, bridging the gap between onboarding and full competence on the job.

Timely = Convenient

Timely learning is about resources that learners can conveniently access at their moment of need. This shouldn’t surprise us, since it’s the same strategy we use in our personal lives: If your clothes dryer just stopped working, and if you’re like most people, you’d go online and look for DIY videos. The videos are a quick and convenient way to investigate whether you, a novice, can solve the problem yourself, or whether you need to make a call to someone like Devon.

For Devon, he needs Timely performance support that will allow him to continue to learn in the flow of his daily work, especially on service calls.

You Have Everything You Need Already!

Does this sound like a daunting task? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, you might already have Timely resources for your learners—you just need to use what you have in new and different ways. Let’s review some examples from our story to illustrate how this might work. To help Devon be more efficient, a new section at the front of the manual could provide overviews of frequent customer issues and how to solve them. This content already exists, right there in the manual, but now it’s much easier for inexperienced technicians to find. How would you determine what to include? One great approach is to get input from experienced service technicians, and also to analyze repair orders from the past few months. Here’s another idea: The same frequently oft-used existing content could be repurposed as a series of quick reference PDFs. These might be housed in the service tech’s service application on their smartphone or tablet. Remember that one-hour eLearning course? Why not break it up into several micro-courses, by topic? The breakdown may be right there in the course’s table of contents or menu bar! These shorter courses make the content more manageable and easier to reference in the future, which is fantastic for scaffolding.

For example, Devon could have used a short video called:

“Getting started with the BR54-9 dryer.” Then he could choose from troubleshooting topics like: “Dryer isn’t getting hot,” or “Dryer is not completing a cycle,” etc.

Another approach would be to leverage the eLearning course to write scripts for short videos, where an experienced technician troubleshoots common issues, fixes them, and shares their own tips and tricks. You could even mount a camera on the technician so that you can see their hands moving, and learners feel like they’re watching the repair in real-time. New hires benefit from the real-world experience of their peers, and current high performers get a chance to shine. There’s another Timely benefit with this Instructional Design strategy: Each resource you develop is smaller or shorter, which can reduce development time and the time to publish—new training needs can be addressed much more quickly than with traditional hour-long eLearning courses. Any, and all of these methods will bring training resources to employees when they need them—that’s the definition of Timely.

Let's Be Timely, All the Time

Whether you’re just getting started on a new custom eLearning solution, or repurposing your existing resources to make them more Timely, ask yourself: “How can I provide this learning as close to the time they need it as possible?” Think big picture: See the learning as a curriculum or library of resources, delivered on-demand, rather than a one-time training event. Deploying resources that employees can seek, find and use on a smartphone or tablet when they need it in the field, will reinforce what they’ve already learned and lead to performance gains. By keeping timeliness in mind, you’ll be crafting learning experiences for employees that support them during their formal training, and also on the job. If you want to know why it is important for L&D managers to design Timely custom eLearning solutions and read more about it, then download our eBook: "7 Better Learning Principles For Custom eLearning" to truly optimize your custom eLearning processes. You can also watch the supporting webinar "Maximize Learning Effectiveness Using The 7 Better Learning Principles" and unlock the full potential of performance-based learning.

eBook Release: Cinecraft Productions
Cinecraft Productions
Cinecraft is a leading producer of custom learning solutions. We specialize in creating experiences that are performance-focused and learner-centric.