The eLearning Guild has extensively covered the digital learning trend—the movement toward self-directed, in-the-moment learning that solves specific questions and is available as needed, wherever the learner happens to be. A natural outgrowth of digital learning is workflow learning, a phenomenon that Guild research director Jane Bozarth examines in her research paper, Learning in the Workflow.

Workflow learning and performance support are powerful boosters of efficiency and accuracy; in some cases, these tools take over tasks for employees, while in others they provide information, instruction, and guidance to enable employees to perform their work more quickly and precisely. Bozarth describes several types of tools and job aids that excel as workflow learning or performance support platforms. Here’s a quick look at three types of tools that support workflow learning and can boost performance:

  • Tools that support collaboration: Encouraging people to “work out loud” and share what they’re doing—and how they solve common problems—is at the heart of The eLearning Guild’s purpose. It’s also a great way to collaboratively apply workflow learning. Social collaboration platforms are one option: They can provide shared spaces for colleagues to post helpful resources and write up their own workarounds. Knowledge communities also form around a plethora of topics; these can include online discussion groups where peers within an organization or larger professional organizations discuss issues, ask and answer questions, and provide other support that employees can access in their workflow.
  • L&D-provided (and vetted) resources: Carefully curated content is a great way to offer in-the-workflow solutions to employees. Expert selection, by an SME or a member of the L&D team, filters out overly broad or poor quality resources and ensures that the content is useful and applicable. Pair it with robust search and make it easily available—and empower employees to problem-solve. A related but more personalized service that Bozarth highlights in her report is a learning concierge. This is a way to provide targeted assistance to individual employees.
  • Automated assistance: In the panic about robots replacing humans on the job, it’s easy to lose sight of the many ways that technology can actually help employees excel at their jobs. Chatbots, for example, can remind people of tasks, quiz them on material they’ve learned in training, highlight issues employees might face, guide employees through some tasks, and schedule meetings. Automation goes far beyond chatbots. Augmented reality is cropping up in the workflow in innovative ways: tools that overlay a diagram or text information to guide an employee in performing a task, voice-activated assistants that assist with or perform simple tasks, and technology that captures and transmits images. The future is likely to hold more exciting AR-based workflow solutions.

Workflow learning is largely self-directed learning; it’s also overwhelmingly digital learning. But sometimes, it’s less learning than it is performance support or just-in-time assistance. Download Learning in the Workflow to more deeply explore the workflow learning concept, tools described here, and other workflow learning tools.