Planner and Sidekick Performance Support
Performance support is a big idea. It helps to break it into two concepts focusing on how integrated the support is with the task or opportunity.
Performance support can be absolutely and totally integrated into the challenge, providing guidance in the flow of the activity. The GPS is a fine example of maximum integration. Another example of full integration occurred as I worked on this paper. Microsoft Word gave me immediate notice that it had doubts about the Mexican sweet, churros. The squiggly red line alerted me; I chose to ignore it because I know how good my memory is for food words. Let’s think about wine. A sidekick wine performance support tool would be with you in the store, as you behold your options. You scan bar codes, or perhaps rely on RFID. Then the system informs about taste, cost, awards and recognitions, and where to buy that bottle at a better price. (Figure 1) Such a sensitive sidekick is not yet available, but soon … very soon.
Figure 1: A sidekick performance support tool can give you on-the-spot summaries of your options.
Let’s continue with the wine theme as we look at the second form of performance support, planner support. Less integrated, but equally worthy, is my Wine Steward mobile performance support tool. Soon after I loaded the Wine Steward software on my phone, I responded to the questions it asked, such as how much I am willing to spend, what tastes I prefer, and where I live. Now, with a pressing need for the right wine to go with eggplant curry, it combines my answers with this main course to generate personalized recommendations. Wouldn’t you be grateful for that assistance? Isn’t it worth a couple of bucks? Or would you rather take a wine tasting class? Do you think you will remember stellar, local wine options appropriate for eggplant curry? Would you remember enough to select differently if you switched to serving eggplant parmesan? You might not recall, but the performance support tool does.
The Wine Steward performance support tool (Figure 2) is not fully integrated into the task. Nor should it be, because it is designed to encourage thoughtfulness while pondering options, just before I purchase.
Figure 2: Wine Steward is a planner-type performance support tool.
Planner performance support provides guidance and advice just prior to and also just after the challenge. It could be helpful in selecting the right wine, mulling over a performance review before submitting it, or judging how you could have delivered an even better speech to a skeptical audience.
A rose for mobile performance support
John Park, a learning specialist at Qualcomm, and I decided to use this thorny topic to test these ideas about mobile performance support.
Meet Holly. She works in sales at a nursery. Holly discovers that the company is about to run a sale on rose bushes. She knows she went to training about roses last year, but eleven months later, she doesn’t remember the details.
How can planner and sidekick support help Holly? In addition to basic sidekick support about kinds of roses, proper locations to plant roses, and ancillary products, she turns to a most amazing mobile sidekick to help her assist Debbie, a customer with a big problem. Holly could not identify a bug that Debbie captured in her garden and brought in. Holly had no clue what to suggest to Debbie. Her mobile sidekick recognized the bug and pointed to products that would encourage it to live somewhere other than her rose bushes.
Let’s imagine that Holly works for a forward-thinking company committed to enabling customers to make good decisions about roses for themselves, before they purchase them. Planner performance support helps Sue get beyond her rose infatuation to think hard and well about the subject. The video introduces the idea of mobile support for self-service, which concludes by directing Sue to consider other, less demanding, plants, given her responses regarding prior plant tending behaviors. (Figure 3)
Figure 3: This mobile support for self-service helps gardeners decide what kind of rose to buy.
IDC, an international research firm, predicted that by 2020 there will be 35-billion connected mobile devices, more than four times the world’s current population. Intrepid Learning recently published a white paper, “Mobile Learning: the time is now,” proclaiming their certainty about mobile learning. Mobile learning attracts most of the attention, especially in the developing world, where it makes sense to leapfrog PCs and jump to placing learning assets on the devices already present.
For the developed world, it’s mobile learning and mobile performance support. Mobile support will help us switch money from one account to another, pick wines, invest in green enterprises, monitor blood pressure, select employees and accounting packages, find parking spaces, make good use of an afternoon at Balboa Park, and support employees who have just suffered a grievous loss.
Is performance support appropriate for your task or challenge? It is suitable to answer that question by sending you to performance support for an answer. Once performance support is determined to make sense, ask yourself if it will be planner support. What of sidekick support? Both? What of instruction? You get to decide.
Gammon, S. K. (2010). M-learning is the future of education. Retrieved 19 July 2010. https://unmarkedconsulting.com/blog
Gawande, A. (December 10, 2007). The checklist. New Yorker. Retrieved 19 July 2010. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/12/10/071210fa_fact_gawande
Intrepid Learning Solutions (June 2010). Mobile learning: the time is now. Retrieved July 22, 2010. http://www.trainingindustry.com/media/3162224/intrepid%20mobilelearning%20thetimeisnow.pdf
MOTILL Project (Mobile Technologies in Lifelong Learning: best practices)
New technologies, new pedagogies: Mobile learning in higher education
7 Things You Should Know About Mobile Apps for Learning
Rossett, A. & Pettry, D. (March, 2010). The classroom in context: taking leader development beyond the classroom. Talent Management, 16-20. Retrieved July 26, 2010. http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mediatec/tm0310/index.php?startid=16#/18
Rossett, A. & Schafer, L. (2007). Performance support for performance support http://www.colletandschafer.com/perfsupp/tool.html
Mobile Learning: Obstacles and Solutions http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/473
(This article expands on ideas in Allison Rossett & Lisa Schafer’s book, Job Aids and Performance Support in the Workplace: Moving from Knowledge in the Classroom to Knowledge Everywhere, San Francisco: Pfeiffer/Wiley Inc. (2007).