Designing Learning for “When Things Go Wrong”
By Michele Medved
“While job aids provide guidelines or best practices, it is also useful to have a real-life input into how to address problems. Community discussion groups provide real value.”
A manager needs to respond to an angry customer. An employee can’t find the right command to use a new proprietary tool. A printer breaks down and someone has to get it working.
Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson have defined “When things go wrong” as a key moment of need in their learning ecosystem. (See the References at the end of this tip.) Problems are a part of everyday working life. They are bound to occur when learners encounter both common and new situations.
When learning professionals anticipate that things can and will go wrong, they will design performance support tools and facilitate resources to provide answers. Providing access to social media (and where necessary, showing or teaching how to use it) and positioning it appropriately leverages performance support, enables people to solve problems quickly, and increases the organization-wide knowledge database. This is a strategy that works for any approach to learning, whether formal (face-to-face, online, or blended) or informal.