Web 2.0 for Job Search from Shari's Perspective
How Do You Prepare for "Other Duties as Assigned" and Slash Jobs?

Create On-the-Fly Micro Job Aides to Support Staff

Job aides are tools, checklists, scripts etc. that help people perform specific on-the-job tasks.They've been around for years, usually created by training staff or managers, but also by workers themselves as "cheat sheets" or other tools to help them get the job done.

The other day I realized that as it has with most things, technology is transforming the idea of the job aide, at least for me.

Last week,  Shari emailed me to ask about how to embed a slidecast and documents into her online portfolio. I was reading this at 7 a.m. (4 a.m., Shari's time), so I couldn't pick up the phone and explain what to do. And I definitely didn't feel like writing a few paragraphs of instructions.

Luckily inspiration struck. Instead of sending Shari written directions, I fired up my FastStone Image Viewer (Free), took a quick picture of the relevant menu, and then drew on the screencapture to point out what she needed to do. She got the graphic you see here, rather than a long email. Wikispaces_instructions

It took me less time to pull together than writing directions, Shari found it much easier to follow, and now Shari has it to refer to later if, for some reason, she forgets what to do--something she wouldn't have if I'd told her how to do it over the phone.

I see something like this as a sort of on-the-fly, micro-job aide--nothing full blown. Just a quick little screenshot with a few instructions. I could see this method working very well for quickly responding to many questions that people have about using just about any technology tools, from how to set up colored labels in Gmail to explaining where the "save" button is in Word (for the seriously technologically-impaired).

If you wanted to take this to the next level, a few other ideas come to mind:

  • Have staff download the Image Viewer or a similar tool to their desktops and then show them how they could use it to begin creating job aides for themselves. The first time they go through a software package, for example, and are afraid they'll forget how to do something, they can take a quick screen capture, annotate it  on the drawing board in the software and then save it to refer to later.
  • Teach people how to use Jing, where they can quickly record up to 5 minutes of audio and video of what they're doing on their screens, which is especially useful for explaining multi-step activities.
  • Have people upload their micro job aides to an organizational wiki where they're readily accessible to everyone.
  • Encourage staff to create Jing recordings or screencaptures for productivity tricks and tips they've discovered for your commonly used software. Again, these can be uploaded to your organizational wiki where they're searchable and accessible to other staff. They could also be embedded in a blog.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. Maybe we need to start creating more of them on the fly.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jing is a great suggestion. We've used it (in the VCU CTE) a few times to create a quick screencast to guide users who call for specific help which requires multiple steps, such as accessing Wimba LiveClassroom, etc. We have also been creating some short screencasts with Camtasia as online faculty resources to be provided after participating in an initial introduction to Blackboard. These are intentionally short and address specific issues. Camtasia allows the addition of callouts, transitions, incorporating other media, etc. It is not free, but a tool well worth considering. Camtasia also allows the re-purposing of PPT presentations.

I use Jing, as well. One caution is that some of the movie captures can be quite large. I've compared the differences between Camtasia and Jing and find that with Camtasia, I can get a much smaller size. So if you use motion captures quite a bit, then it's worth it to use the other product because the large flash files can strain your network. A free alternative to Camtasia is Wink.

Thanks, I really appreciate your willingness to help out. I will definitely keep you posted!

The comments to this entry are closed.