An assumption that many managers and executives hold is that once workers know what to do, their performance will improve. Most learning professionals will tell you that that assumption is flat out wrong. Learning professionals know that although knowledge is essential, it’s only the first step. Any decent learning program will provide workers with opportunities to apply their new knowledge so they can practice using their new skills. Unfortunately, that’s as far as most learning programs go. However, when the skills addressed are mission critical to the organization, how can your learning program go farther?
The Missing Steps
So what’s missing? To truly drive worker performance change which will result in positive business outcomes, learning programs must go beyond providing knowledge and applying skills. Workers must also be able to refine their skills as well as refresh what they’ve learned over time.
Think about it in your own life. You could watch a video of Gordon Ramsay making an omelette. Does that mean you can cook one just like him by watching a three-minute video? No it doesn’t- if only it was that easy. In reality, you’ll need to practice applying your omelette making skills and do it repeatedly with feedback to refine it. Along the way, you may need to refer back to the recipe or the video. Only after those experiences will your performance have (hopefully) improved so your omelette may resemble one from Gordon Ramsay.
A Learning Design Challenge
So how do you bridge the gap between what is typically designed for learning programs and a solution that delivers real business outcomes? One way is to leverage an instructional design called SASS. Here, I’ll share how Ingenuiti supported a client to transform their in-person course into a dynamic, scalable, hybrid eLearning program by using the SASS framework. I developed the SASS four step process to organize learning experiences so that learners can:
- Seek knowledge via online learning modules
- Apply their skills in an interactive workbook
- Sharpen their skills with personalized feedback
- Soar to success by reviewing their content easily whenever needed
We divided the course content into multiple modules (6-12 minutes long) that would be hosted in the client’s Learning Management System (LMS). In each module, learners are presented with examples that put them “in the scene” by posing questions and ‘imagine-if’ scenarios to help them solve plausible business problems as they complete the interactive exercises. At the end of each module, learners also answer a knowledge check to validate their mastery of the content.
At the end of each module, learners access a downloadable, interactive Participant Workbook. It includes a summary of the module concepts as well as mini-exercises in which they apply their knowledge and skills to an actual work project that they self-select. By using a current, future, or previous project, learners apply the strategies and skills learned in the course to tactical applications that are relevant to them.
When all of the modules have been completed, learners begin a capstone project. Based on a prompt, they create and submit a written response that they developed based on the course material. Next, a Subject Matter Expert (SME) reviews it using a rubric to provide individualized written and voice-recorded feedback with recommendations for improvement. Learners then review the detailed and specific feedback and revise their work before re-submitting it. The SME grades the final project and provides a certificate of completion to the learners. This workflow provides a degree of personalization and attention that is not possible in a large, in-person classroom setting.
Soar to Success
After learners have earned their certification, there are often times when they will need to reference some of the course content in order to:
- Refresh their memory
- Practice using a concept with a new message framework
- Share a concept with a colleague or client
Whether it’s weeks, months, or years later, they can access the course content in a variety of modalities, including:
- Course module videos and activities
- One page summaries
- Their own notes
The Benefits of SASS
The SASS framework supports learning professionals to develop solutions for learners that not only provide knowledge and opportunities to apply it, but ultimately in-depth, personalized feedback that is based on their work that they are currently developing in their organization. This framework can also be used when developing other types of learning solutions that we’ll explore in future posts.
Article by Johnny Hamilton
Johnny Hamilton recently led project teams that resulted in being ranked #7 in the US for learning design in innovation by eLearning Magazine (2019) as well as winning Brandon Hall silver awards for Best Approach to Innovation (2018) and Best Advance in Leadership Simulation Tools (2017).