How to Transform Old Training Content into New Performance Support Tools

In a society where “there’s an app for that” is synonymous with quick problem-solving, who wants to read a book or take a class to learn something new when a simple keyword search or a dedicated application will do?  This desire for self-directed, highly accessible and instantly applicable information is a defining characteristic of our convenience culture and it doesn’t just vanish when we go to work. For most trainees (particularly millennials) this is an expectation — and it means that we must embrace opportunities to replace old-school training content with new-era performance support tools.

But when you’re staring down a hefty catalog of classroom training materials, where do you start?

Recognize what a performance support tool is.

Tools that support job performance are:

  • Relevant to a specific task
  • Timely (i.e. deliver current information at the right time)
  • Easily accessible for the intended audience
  • Easy to use
  • Focused on need to know information

Looking for a real-world analog?  Consider your GPS.  Compared to a paper-based road map a GPS gives you:

  • Door-to-door directions (relevant and focused)
  • Delivered on-demand (timely & automatically updated)
  • At your finger tips (accessible)
  • Voice-guided (easy to use)

Analyze and synthesize old training content.

 

 

  • Start by sorting your existing training content according to those programs or components that are most critical to the success of your organization. Those are the ones you should focus on transforming first.
  • Focus on critical skills to further prioritize content.
  • Extract key content and set-aside the nice-to-know stuff.

Transform old training content into new performance support tools.

 

 

Once you’ve sorted wheat from chaff, it’s time to transform!

Take that dusty reference manual covering the A to Zs of using the cash register and turn it into an online FAQ accessible from the back-office.  Augment this high-tech (but back room) solution with a low-tech laminated job aid covering crucial information from the manual.

Here are ten more transformations to consider:

  • Turn case studies into a library of skill-based practice scenarios managers can use for coaching their staff.
  • Re-work existing trainer or manager-led activities into independent study exercises.
  • Design hybrid tools, i.e. a participant worksheet from the classroom that acts as a job-aid (designed by the trainee) back on the job.
  • Turn boring click & read online training into downloadable, task-oriented check-lists or action planners to help trainees apply learning.
  • Convert classroom training materials into quick online training modules.
  • Ditch step/action quick-reference guides and paper job aids for quick “how to” screen demos.
  • Replace bullet-heavy and text-heavy PowerPoint slides in your next webinar with slides that ask a question of the audience.  Not only does this turn a passive training experience into an interactive one, it also gives you an opportunity to collect and catalog best practice tips from your audience.
  • Migrate frequently referenced Word docs, presentation files, or .pdf forms to a central online repository so everyone can view them as needed.
  • Record several short podcasts instead of circulating the same dated, lengthy training video.
  • Distill wordy explanations of complex concepts into a sleek infographic.

Those are just some of my ideas for transforming old training into new tools.  What are yours?  Leave a comment to share them with the Mindflash community.

And if you enjoyed this post, I’ve written several others on re-purposing or transforming existing training content:

>> More from Trina Rimmer on the Mindflash blog.

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Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with twelve years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training. When her skills aren’t being tested by her children, you’ll find her helping others to develop their own training design muscles.