27 January 2011

Performance Support Remembered

The 1st time I read Rossett's Job Aids Handbook, I immediately fell in love with the concept. It makes so much sense. It's sensible. Who wants to spend time being instructed when you just need to be reminded, motivated or guided. Here are three other links to PS materials 1, 2, 3. I recently saw Allison talk about her latest iteration of the idea. Referring to mobile performance support, she gave some great examples of performance support apps and app-thinking. Yelp (not her example, but still a good one) aids the process of going out to eat. Evernote helps me be more productive.

As I was mulling over some learning modules I'm developing for our online student resource center, it occurred to me that we hadn't really considered the upfront question of whether these modules need to be redesigned as instruction or as performance support. Take for example, an app that gives students an overview (guidance) of campus organizations to join and an incentive (motivation) to join them.

Rossett suggests that there are planner and sidekick performance supports. "Planner performance support provides guidance and advice just prior to and also just after the challenge." Sidekicks are the checklists pilots use when they check out the plane before departing. They're embedded in the task at hand. Camtasia, a multimedia authoring program, has descriptions of the functions of the interface built right into it. When your mouse rolls over it, you find out what a button does. This is a sidekick performance support feature.

Of the modules I'm planning on developing, a fair number of them should probably be designed as PS rather than instruction. Most students aren't going to take the time to use them instructionally and we're not even sure if the content we have needs to be instructed. Without a dedicated instructor at least overseeing the process, the content looses some if not all of its instructional libido.