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Posts Tagged ‘job aid

Disclaimer: My reflection below is not authoritative information about the new health protocols for Singapore’s COVID-19 strategies. The authoritative source is MOH (see points 21 and 22) and the reporting article is from CNA. My focus is the design of a job aid.

Maybe it is the educator who provides feedback or the instructional designer in me, but I look for clarity in any work. So I thought that the protocols presented by CNA could have been better.

I watched the video briefing, read the article, and studied the protocol summaries. The original protocol by CNA was:

The improvements (in blue) might include:

  • For clarity, the numbers refer to protocols, not steps to follow. Each should be labelled “Protocol #”. This sends a message: Do one of the following depending on which category you fall into.
  • I swapped the positions of protocols 1 and 2 because the majority of people (almost 99% according to point 5 of the MOH source) do not have mild or no symptoms. So the first protocol should address the majority.
  • Protocol 2 (formerly the first protocol) lacked the instruction to see a doctor. The CNA article stated that you are “encouraged” to do this; the MOH source has stronger wording (“should see a doctor, point 21). In the video briefing, the doctor’s diagnosis seemed to be a given. This instruction is not clear in the summary. This is remedied with the phrase “After you see a doctor”.
  • Protocol 3 should provide information (or a link) to where ART results should be uploaded. If an ART result is positive, the instruction should be to follow protocol 1 or 2 depending on the person’s health.

In the presence of a lot of information, people tend to refer to summaries, lists, job aids, etc. These are succinct versions of the long form instructions. Short forms tend to lose information and context, but they do not have to lose quality or clarity if we take care to design them carefully for communication or education.

I do not claim to have a perfect job aid. My background of instructional design simply gives me a critical eye for usability and clarity. It is a skill that transfers from the design of materials for teaching and learning to communication to the general public. I leave this critique here should I need it later as a reference for instructional/consultation material.

I am going to unload on an example of poor instructional design.

One of the first things I learnt while getting qualifications on instructional design was information design. In the design of job aids, for example, the sequence of instructions was critical in getting people to perform tasks correctly and optimally.

Consider this job aid that is emerging in HDB void decks all over the island. It is for the new dual bike rack system. The job aid has a section, Loading Your Bicycle.

Poorly designed job aid on the loading of a bike on the new racks at HDB void decks.

If you compare the images and the instructions under each image, you might notice that they are not congruent. The text tells you how to load a bike. The images show you how to unload one.

I might sound like I am splitting hairs because the sequence of unloading and unloading are essentially the same. However, in the former the bike is already in the upper rack, while in the latter it is not. The illustrations do not make sense and the job aid would have failed at face value.

There are other aspects of the job aid that one could critique, e.g., the poor positioning and inconsistent use of the arrows. For me, this is a clear indication that agencies need properly credentialed and rigorously prepared instructional designers. It does not just matter that something as simple as a job aid looks good. It has to make sense, too.


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