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Designing and Developing Job Aids

Overview

Formal learning events like training are often a great way to promote foundational learning content. However, training can be costly to develop and time consuming for learners to attend. Learning research indicates that many learners struggle to apply what they learn in the classroom, and that organizations should do more to support learners in their work environment.

If you’re trying to move the needle on a workplace issue, consider integrating job aids into your learning strategy. According to the Learning & Performance Ecosystem Model, job aids are a form of performance support designed to help employees complete a task with fewer errors and in less time. For example, posting a job aid with images of the different types of identification cards and passes used by park visitors may help a new Visitor Use Assistant quickly calculate entry fees.

Have you used a SPE/GAR card to help conduct a risk assessment? A mobile app to get directions? Job aids can be as simple as a notecard or as robust as a system integration. They can be used as a planner to help get someone ready to perform a task, or a sidekick to help someone perform a task (Rossett).

Designing Job Aids

Choose job aids when you want to help team members or employees perform tasks that:

  • Are complex;
  • Involve coordination with multiple people and processes;
  • Are performed infrequently;
  • Are new;
  • Have changed; or
  • Are critical to our mission.

Select a design that makes sense for the type of job performance being supported and available development resources:

  1. Checklists or templates for processes or procedures A screenshot of a checklist for granting a wilderness permit. In the left column is a list of questions; the middle column there is a "yes" and "no" column and a column on the right for comments.
  2. Org charts and swim lanes for roles and workflows The outline of a flow chart. One square is at the top of the chart with three arrows pointing to three squares below it.
  3. Flowcharts for process mapping and decision-trees A diagram clearly showing the ways in which different systems integrate with one another.
  4. Concept maps or infographics for macro-level context An image with a computer at the bottom with arrows pointing to three websites: NPS.gov, the CLP, and InsideNPS. From the websites, arrows point to either a group of NPS employees (top right of the image) or a group of members of the public (top left of the photo) to indicate what websites are available to which group.
  5. Guidebooks, reference material, screenshots, or contact lists for critical information Sample pages from the ACE workbook
  6.  Multimedia or tutorials for just-in-time learning bursts A woman in a peach shirt looks at a smart phone at her desk at home.

Be smart about your design. Make sure that your job aids are:

  • Versioned so that you can update them when content changes;
  • Accessible per best practices in Section 508; and
  • Easy to access/download so they can be shared.

Developing Job Aids

  1. Green target iconDefine the need.
    • Who are your target learners or performers?
    • What tasks and steps will they be performing? What do they need to know in order to perform (concepts, principles, facts, procedures, processes)?
  2. A line drawing of a brown gear wheel.Select the tool.
    • Decide whether job aid will be used for planning or performing.
    • Review the list of design variants above. Which will best support the employee performance?
    • Think about the performance environment. Decide what format will be most useful and accessible to employees at the moment of need. A printed document? A video?
  3. An orange icon depicting a template design.Develop the prototype.
    • Create something that can be used to test and gather feedback.
    • Do not spend a lot of time on visual design, just generate a skeleton.
  4. A brown outline of a clipboard with a list.Test with targets.
    • Get your prototype into the hands of people who would use it on the job.
    • Observe them attempting to use the job aid.
    • Ask questions; take notes.
  5. An outline of three people around a gear with arrows indicating movement.Iterate until you have an effective solution.

Resources

To read more about performance support and job aids, consider downloading Dr. Allison Rossett’s presentation on Moving Learning from the Classroom to the Field: Job Aids and Performance Support.

Job Aid Examples

Templates to Get You Started

 

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