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If a performance support system only provides raw content (e.g.,
cases) and does not also answers such questions, it is likely to
leave some users confused about how to apply the content that it
does provide. Accordingly, performance support tools should not
only provide raw content, they should also allow their users to ask
a range of types of questions about that content.
People learn by doing. For instance, to become a good investor,
one must do a lot of investing. But investing is a risky business.
So it is best to practice in a safe, controlled environment, one
that allows effective coaching to be delivered as it is required.
Simulation-based training environments can allow people to learn by
doing without the risk of catastrophic failure.
More generally, it is often easiest to explain what a domain is
about to prospective members of a community by letting them try
completing a task in the domain. Similarly, it is often easiest to
help existing members learn new skills by allowing them to have a
go at them. Since performing tasks in the real world is often
expensive and does not permit adequate coaching, giving members
simulated experiences is a sensible approach.
However, good simulations require good content. A simulation
builder must identify which tasks are important to simulate,
what case material may be used as grist for the simulation,
what errors users are likely to make, and what
coaching is appropriate to deliver when those errors occur.
Importantly, this is the same type of content that an effective
organizational material should provide.
The Nii's Role
The NII can, in theory, help those with similar interests work
together, even though they may be separated by barriers of space
and time. This potential, if realized, promises to revamp how we as
individuals learn throughout our lifetimes and how we as a society
grow our capabilities. However, to realize this potential, we must
move beyond general goals to a specification of the types of
applications we desire the NII to support. Only then can we create
the particular research agendas needed to develop these
NIIAC. 1995. Common Ground: Fundamental
Principles for the National Information Infrastructure. First
Report of the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council.