Performance Support in Online Learning

Changing Instructional Tides: Four Critical Concepts Bolstering Effective Training Programs – Part 4 of 4: Performance Support

This is the fourth and final installment in our four-part series exploring the synergy between Content Modernization, Intelligence, Mobility and Performance Support as key factors driving the development and innovation of eLearning today.

Part 4 of 4: Performance Support


As more organizations make the move to web-based instructional resources to cater to modern learners now accustomed to consuming content on digital devices, adjusting to such shifts in demands and aligning with learner expectations has become more critical than ever.

But how, exactly, can training cater to this shift?

The answer lies in designing and implementing programs with instructional tracks that focus on four key tenets: content modernization, intelligence, mobility and performance support.

Small, quick-hit information ushered in with the digital age means employees can access and retain more information through contextualized, modernized support solutions, while enhancing performance with unlimited accessibility.

Our first three installments addressed the critical concepts that enhance effective training programs: content modernization, which engages new resources and delivery methods designed to bolster learning in the workplace, intelligence, which enables employers to link courses to backend systems that facilitate the collection and analysis of instructional data, and mobility, which delivers the training content where and when learners want to consume it.

The fourth and final tenet, performance support, serves to not only deliver real-time information and knowledge, but also guidance and support at the learner’s exact moment of real-time application.

The Science of Forgetting

With modern content, robust backend data-collection capabilities, and mobile delivery options, organizations can make great instructional strides. However, to see actual operational benefits, there needs to be a focus on knowledge application.

More than 60 percent of businesses offer peer-to-peer coaching programs which can address this issue. That said, this approach fails to take into account one common scenario: What happens when mentorless employees need guidance in the moment?

Known as the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, it suggests that within one hour, people forget an average of 50 percent of the information presented, 70 percent within 24 hours, and 90 percent within a week.

So what can be done to combat the basic brain science of learning and retention – or forgetting?

The Science of Retention

Point-of-need instructional access is, of course, the answer. Enterprises can prompt productivity gains by utilizing easily searchable apps and microlearning courses, which allow workers to review training materials as they navigate their day-to-day duties. This methodology facilitates seamless knowledge application and helps employees integrate new tactics into long-established workflows. On top of that, this kind of access is in demand among modern learners – approximately 56 percent prefer to apply newly learned techniques in real time.

Such real-time application and performance support enables learners to not only access any learning, resource or asset information at the exact moment of need, but also apply newly acquired skills at the time of need when usually only a short amount of time is available to get the job done.

And that immediate recall and subsequent on-the-job application interrupt the forgetting curve at its earliest stage of decline. In fact, research has shown that when a student learns from, interacts with, and has an impact on the real world, higher retention of learning will occur.

Some of the businesses pioneering this approach have included managers, lending them the time and tools needed to establish daily employee touch points to reinforce knowledge absorption.

Performance Support Approaches

While eLearning provides virtually limitless opportunities for learning and development, some performance support and retention approaches can prove more effective than others. Here are three of the most impactful.

Predictive Learning LMS Platforms

Predictive learning leverages third-party data according to learning needs in real time at the exact place and moment of need. So for an on-the-job employee, an LMS can collect and analyze all the data, apply algorithms, and then suggest training opportunities accordingly while external data sources can also be integrated to provide a more complete and exhaustive employee profile.

Microlearning Apps

According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in bite-sized chunks makes learning 17 percent more efficient. As such, microlearning delivers short, easy-to-consume course material for quick consumption and better retention. In fact, a study found that more than 50 percent of respondents indicated that they would use their company’s learning tools more if the courses were shorter.

Nudge Software

Nudge software delivers information when it is most meaningful and makes resources easy to access which initiates learning and helps with long-term retention. Sending the learner questions in the weeks or months following the course to test retention, nudge software can uncover opportunities to continue educating by sending a reinforcing microlearning course.

Modern Learners, Modern Learning

As training and development move forward, so must the organizations unlocking their potential by retiring outdated teaching methods and embracing alternatives centered around real-time performance enhancement and support.

Organizations that design and deploy workplace training programs built on the four tenets of content modernization, intelligence, mobility and performance support can easily weather this shift and give employees the actionable knowledge they need to grow themselves and the business, one shift at a time.