Eight years ago, I wrote a blog post on training versus learning. I was frustrated because clients often asked for “training” courses (eLearning, in particular) when what they really wanted to do was communicate information. They didn’t necessarily want the recipient to do anything. They wanted to share information with the recipient.

The rise of the LMS has worsened this situation with companies wanting to put everything into clickable “courses” so they can track that employees have completed their training. I often find myself listening to employees tell me about how frustrating it is to have to access resources from within a course – or to explain the reason they don’t use resources because they would have to go back and find the course in order to get to the resource. That’s not useful.

Where are the performance gaps?

I routinely find myself sharing this graphic on what factors influence someone’s ability to perform. This model reads left to right. Note that only one box out of eight relates to lack of skill or knowledge. My experience is that most gaps in performance relate to problems with organizational systems, processes, or problems with resources.

We work very hard to help clients distinguish true training needs from information-sharing needs to come up with better solutions to support non-training needs. I’d like to see L&D professionals get better at thinking about how the digital landscapes within their companies (and literally in people’s hands due to their smartphones) can better enable people to find and use information in the moment.

5 Just-In-Time Tools

Your employees cannot possibly retain everything you want them to know. Instead, consider what easy-to-use, easy-to-find tools you can provide to them so they can locate information when they need it. A post-training reinforcement tool increases the odds of long-term retention.

Here are tools I think are under-used:

1. Intranet search functions

Think Google and the wonderful way you can type “How do I [INSERT VERB AND PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE]? I love Google’s Year in Review videos because they illustrate that Google lets you look up almost anything. Companies need to think about how to enable employees to easily search for information on the company’s Intranet or company video library.

2. Resource Websites… that aren’t buried in an LMS

Sometimes a stand-alone website is the key to optimal usage. (e.g. insertyourprocessorproductname.com, which is often easier to find/locate than trying to hunt within an Intranet). You can create a password-protected site and set the site up to support single sign-on. This avoids users having to create a separate username and password to access your special site. Instead, they can use credentials they already have with other tools in your organization, such as Salesforce or your Intranet. If you create a website, make sure it’s responsive as well as simple and quick to use.

3. Mobile apps

Apps can be awesome reinforcers to support live or online training that is more “traditional” (e.g. take it on a laptop, click through lots of content). They can also be stand-alone resources. Lectora and Articulate both have great tools for creating these kinds of apps. Here’s one we created in Rise for QAing Storyline courses.

4. YouTube

YouTube channels allow you to create and upload your own how-to videos or interactive practice videos. There are alternatives to YouTube if privacy is a concern, but being able to go to YouTube, type in “How do I…” and locate short videos that show as well as tell is hugely helpful. We post all the videos we create on our YouTube channel. This nifty little video on creating interactive, game-like modules using Storyline 3 was a recent posting.

And here’s a new tool I think people will go nuts over if the popularity of Google’s Home and Amazon’s Alexa are any indication…

5. Chatbots

These tools can provide live, just-in-time support, letting you ask common questions and spooning up the answer for you. To see how one works, check out Rocky – the chatbot launched by Rare Carat in 2017.

To sum up…

Instead of immediately leaping to create an eLearning course, consider whether some sort of online resource for just-in-time information may be needed. The “just-in-time” tool that most of us have available at all times is our phone. Designing and building resources accessible from the phone can make your employee’s lives easier. Instead of developing training, creating a resource that is only used as needed saves you both time and money.