Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What is a Minimalist Training Model?

What is a "Minimalist Training Model" (I have taken the meaning of the word "minimalist" in a literal sense and done away with purely theoretical assumptions and niceties) and have tried to see if we can present this to a client with a rationale about the business impact.

Minimalist Training Model would need to have the following features:

1. Be Learning Object (LO) driven. When instructional content is broken down into small chunks that are yet contextually meaningful and self standing, a good designer will automatically eliminate the redundant and retain the essential. It is not about "simplification" but about providing only the required information. So, the first characteristic of Minimalism gets taken care of and client does not pay for "extraneous" effort.

2. Business impact. These LOs or Shareable Content Objects (SCOs) have a direct impact on the client's training cost because these can be used "as is" or in combination/permutation with other SCOs to form training packages quickly.

As the term training implies (as opposed to "learning" which is much broader in nature), they are typically goal/object driven performance-support programs. Being specific goal driven, all effective training programs address the "task at hand".
Again, redundancy gets taken care of and what is required for a specific project or to acquire a skill set is communicated.

Thus, for clients the business impact of a Minimalist Training Model is the ability:
~ to create multiple training programs
~ for specific needs
~ as and when required
~ at minimal cost
~ and the least redundancy
~ by combining existing SCOs in different permutations

Without applying the theories of minimalism, one cannot create LOs.

3. Create Performance Support Solutions (PSS): This is to address point 3 raised by you. You are absolutely right when you say that no matter how many sims and case studies we create, it is still the actual experience that will count.

It is, therefore, much better to create PSS rather than elaborate, comprehensive programs to meet the needs of working adults. Elaborate programs that begin with concept, go to theories and examples and then give typical assessments are more academic in nature and may not always be efficacious in actually bridging skill gaps or enforcing a behavioral change. The latter is more aptly met with PSS and needless to say, PSS are always based on the Minimalist Approach. Because PSS ALWAYS aim to meet only the required need and can be in the form of Help files, Job Aids, FAQs, Forums, Manuals, How-to Process guides, etc.

To summarize:

4. When does minimalist work? Minimalist works:
~ when the training need is clear,
~ when the audience has a very specific and common performance gap (s) or a new skill acquisition need,
~ when the audience has approximately the same level/type of pre-knowledge
~ adequate support from the organization in terms of immediate access to training programs
~ access to performance support solutions

5. Benefit to client.

~ The savings in training program creation accrued over a period of time
~ The savings in time and effort
~ Catering to exact needs of audience thus reducing training seat time
~ Catering to the exact performance gap thereby allowing learners to start immediately on meaningfully realistic tasks
~ "Byte" sized, self-standing training modules facilitating assimilation and dissemination

What else do you think can be added?



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