Modular Design of Performance-Based Instruction: Performance Support & Learning Experiences

A modular “Development Path” design – top-down – easily accounts for all of the performance-based “Learning-How-To-Perform” Needs – and also serves as an Open Menu – and not just a suggested starting point for creating an “Individual Development Plan” – which personalizes performance-based Instruction – job aids/performance support and/or training/learning experiences.

I always lead with Performance Support (Job Aids) before Learning Experiences (Training) when I write or talk about the two means to the ends of Performance.

As that’s my default – Performance Support (Job Aids) – if it’s worth covering from a return or risk avoidance business strategy, then we covered it in Formal Learning.

Many “legitimate learning needs” are simply Not Worth addressing, considering their First Costs & Benefits and their Life Cycle Costs & Benefits. They should be left to Informal and Social Learning means.

When it is Worthy

When it is Worthy, you want it to be Effective and Efficient Learning – which starts with an Analysis of the Outputs and Measures and Tasks and Gaps and Enabling Knowledge & Skills.

Then that Analysis data is used in the downstream Design steps to create Design data.

My modular ISD/LXD Design configuration is modular Events & modular Lessons & modular Instructional Activities – like Russian Dolls – or Maps – the Event Map lays out the instructional flow of lessons, which then lay out a flow of Instructional Activities – which is where all of the Analysis ended up – documented on the Activity Spec – short for Instructional Activity Specification – the last Design Output.

All of the Analysis data shows up in my 3rd level of Design: Instructional Activity Specifications (Activity Specs). There are three types of Instryctuional Activity:

  • INFO – Information
  • DEMO – Demonstration(s)
  • APPO – Application Exercises

The goal is to minimize the INFOs to spend more time in APPOs.

I start Design by specifying the APPOs per Lesson Map – which are the authentic Practice with Feedback rounds.

Then any DEMOs – which are sometimes needed and sometimes not. And sometimes, multiple DEMOs are required. At regular speed, at slow-motion speed, and sometimes a stop-motion point with text and arrows, etc.

And then, we process the Knowledge & Skills Analysis Data into blocks of INFOs, always trying to “keep them as short as possible but as long as necessary.”

Short on INFO. Long on APPOs.

That’s where I consumed 60-70% of the time in the Learning Event (the administrative item to be tracked/processed) – at least that was an arbitrary design decision of mine, a goal, as we started a project – and I would declare that to my client and stakeholders just to start “a conversation that ends with a consensus decision” and guide me in my Design Activities producing Design Outputs – hopefully with a team of Master Performers and Other Subject Matter Experts on my Analysis and Design Teams.

APPOs – From Easy to Hades

The APPOs – the Application Exercises are the key to you preparing people to perform back on the job.

The APPO is where they get to practice and receive reinforcing or corrective feedback so that people go back to the job with Performance Competence and Confidence.

I’ve been doing this kind of work since 1979, and developed my own methodology, processes, techniques, and tools (templates) to facilitate the smooth approach to projects, where the Plan lays out all of the descriptions and examples of the tasks to be performed, and the outputs to be produced – and the data – needed out of the Analysis Process to feed the Design Process.

Back in the late 1980s I gave my methodology-set the name: PACT.

PACT as in, a pact, a contract, an agreement. And that agreement starts with a Performance Orientation.

This has been covered in past books, including my 1999 “lean-ISD” book, but in many others.

You might be interested in my 2021 book: Performance-Based Lesson Mapping.

Review by Bill Brandon from October 2021 – here.

The “Lesson Mapping” book is available from Amazon – here.

See all of Guy W. Wallace’s books on his Amazon Authors Page:


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