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9 E-learning Design Methods To Accelerate Workplace Skill Proficiency

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In this research-based article, an instructional design model and the 9 promising e-learning methods are described which can be used to design a curriculum to accelerate proficiency in the workplace skills.


In a previous post ‘5 E-learning Strategies To Accelerate Time to Proficiency in Complex Cognitive Skills At workplace‘, I summarized 5 e-learning strategies to accelerate the speed to the proficiency of employees, particularly in learning complex cognitive skills from a research paper published I published in ICEL’2016 conference (here is the link to the research paper). While that post established a conceptual model of e-learning strategies that are shown to accelerate proficiency. However, designing a full start-to-end curriculum using those strategies requires more guidance not fully covered in that post. This article will describe an instructional design model about how to put together a curriculum that is fully geared towards accelerating speed to proficiency. Then I will describe the 9 most promising viewpoints or methods to implement the 5 e-learning strategies discussed in the previous post and provide general guidance on how to develop a curriculum using such methods.

5 E-learning Strategies That Accelerate Proficiency

The previous post explained all the 5 e-learning strategies in detail. The conceptual model described in that post is reconstructed with a meta-question that is asked at each node to guide the instructional design. The 5 e-learning strategies are tied to each other in a closed loop and interact with each other seamlessly to accelerate proficiency in an integrated fashion. An e-learning curriculum would result in accelerated proficiency only if all of the 5 e-learning strategies are woven together. Here is the quick list of e-learning strategies and their corresponding meta question which is shown in Figure 1:

  1. Experience-rich Multi-Technology Mix – Which e-learning channel or technology can deliver the intended skill to provide enriched experience and deeper learning?
  2. Time-Spaced Micro-Learning Content – Which skill can be packed in shorter e-learning units that can be applied immediately at the job?
  3. Scenario-based contextualization of e-learning – Which task requires deeper thinking and solving a range of problems to achieve business outcomes?
  4. On-demand Electronics PSS – Which skills can be delivered through PSS to provide JIT support at the moment of need?
  5. Optimally Sequenced e-Learning Path – What e-learning activities make someone reach proficiency quickly and what activities do not lead to proficiency?
Detailed e-learning conceptual model
Figure 1: Meta-questions for 5 e-learning strategies to accelerate proficiency

Accelerated Proficiency Model using E-learning Strategies

Acquisition of proficiency in a new job

Acquisition of desired proficiency to do a job is explained here with a typical case and may not always be the rule for every job or every role. A typical journey of acquiring and maintaining proficiency in new job/role/skills is depicted as four phases by green solid lines in figure 2.

4 phases of proficiency acquisition through training
Figure 2: Four phases of proficiency acquisition in typical training-oriented settings (Copyrights Raman K. Attri) 

Phase1: Pre-instructor-led training (Pre-ILT) phase: In a typical scenario, at the workplace, a new hire is brought into the organization at time N0 with some base proficiency P0 (let’s assume) for the job. He is provided some onboarding orientation. During this orientation, the new hire typically would read or undergo some organizational processes and not in particular about the job. Technically, the new hires are not learning specific skills for their job. There tends to be a “bench time” which may vary from one job to another. This bench period is from N0 to N1. This phase is termed as pre-instructor-led training (Pre-ILT) phase in the figure.

Phase 2: Instructor-led training (ILT) phase: Most technical organizations have job-specific training that is offered to the new employees. In most cases, this training is instructor-led/classroom-based training specific to imparting product knowledge, specific skills to do the job function, and processing that are used during that job role. Usually, this period from N1 to N2 may be spread into multiple instructor-led training sessions, depending on the nature of the job. Typically, a new employee could see a small uplift in his proficiency to do the new job to a level P1. This phase is termed as Instructor-led training (ILT) phase in the figure.

Phase 3: Post-ILT on-the-job learning phase: From there on, they are on the job, performing various activities with someone or independently. Some organizations tend to have parallel mentoring, coaching, or on-the-job training to provide an individual with more experience to do the job. With repeated assignments and involvement in various activities, an individual may learn at a certain rate and eventually reaches desired proficiency P3 defined for the job in time interval N6-N2.  The total time, N6, taken by an individual to reach desired proficiency, called time to proficiency, may be very long depending on several factors. This phase is termed as Post-ILT on-the-job learning phase. 

Phase 4: Sustain and maintain phase: If the individual is continuously engaged in job-specific assignments at a higher rate, he would maintain that level of proficiency. This is termed as sustain and maintain phase in the figure.


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About Dr Raman K Attri

Dr Raman K Attri is the world’s #1 authority on the science of speed in professional and organizational settings. He is the world's only professional speaker speaking on the topic of the science of speed. He is the author of 23 multi-genre books. As a performance scientist, he has been recognized as one of the leading ‘Transformational Business Leaders’ of 2022. He was named as one of the ‘Global 500 Leaders’ of 2021, alongside stellar leaders like Oprah Winfrey, Gary Vee, Jim Kwik, and Jay Shetty, to name a few. He has made his space as a true accelerated learning guru, earning over 100 international credentials and degrees, including two doctorates in the learning domain, apart from some of the world’s highest certifications. A corporate business manager, he has been featured and cited in over 125 media features in TV/radio shows, magazines, podcasts, and forums.

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