What are the 5 moments of learning need?

The "five moments of need" is an influential framework which helps us understand learning and performance in the workplace. It was first described by Dr. Conrad Gottfredson, an expert on performance support in the workplace. The framework can be used to map all learning and performance support needs in any organization.

If you are looking to improve learning and development at your organization, an understanding of this concept is very valuable.

Here is what you need to know about the 5 moments of need in learning.

What are the 5 moments of need?

Dr. Gottfredson’s 5 moments of need are summarized below:

  1. New: When people are learning how to do something for the first time
  2. More: When people are expanding the breadth and depth of what they have learned
  3. Apply: When they need to act upon what they have learned (this includes planning what they will do, remembering what they may have forgotten, or adapting their performance to a unique situation)
  4. Solve: When problems arise, or things break or do not work the way they were intended
  5. Change: When people need to learn a new way of doing something which requires them to change skills that are deeply ingrained in their performance practices

Examples of a moment of need

A moment of need occurs in real time and can happen in all kinds of scenarios.

Let’s take business technology. Imagine you are attempting to share a folder in OneDrive for the first time. You will experience a moment of need because you will need to figure out which button to click to share, how to select recipients, and how to define permissions about who can view the folder. This approach is largely about the ‘New’ need, but it may also include some ‘Apply’ if you have been taught it before.

Alternatively, imagine you have just tried to set up a conference call in Microsoft Teams, but no one seems to have received the invite. This is an example of the ‘Solve’ moment of need. You need support figuring out what went wrong.

How to provide support at the moment of need

There are so many potential moments of need when people are using business technology. And this is where a just in time, contextual microlearning system helps.

Contextual microlearning systems provide useful training content within the same page the user is currently struggling with. They click on a ‘help’ icon and immediately receive relevant instruction related to the page they are looking at.

Returning to our example with OneDrive folder sharing. The first time a user performs this task, they can click on a ‘help’ icon. It then opens a pop-up which provides an easy walk-thru guide describing how to share folders, apply permissions and select recipients.

By receiving training at this moment of need, the user feels less stressed, avoids making mistakes and saves time. After a couple of attempts, this process will be second nature – they’ll never need to read the guide again.

Learning at the moment of need leads to better outcomes

According to the Building Staff Engagement report, training that is delivered at the moment of need leads to a 23% improvement in the speed of a new system rollout, and a 12% reduction in time to proven competency. This approach also leads to an increase in productivity and a reduction in errors.

Support at the 5 moments of need

“It simply isn’t acceptable to throw learners over the classroom... into the workflow, and then hope that what we did during the online or class event will magically transfer to successful job performance. It doesn’t. We know full well that learning doesn’t stick unless you put in place provisions that support performance in the workflow.” - Dr. Conrad Gottfredson & Bob Mosher

Information workers are increasingly faced with the challenge of adopting new systems in a sustainable way. At the same time, their employers must deal with the challenge of keeping users up to date with learning and development opportunities.

Unfortunately, most technology training approaches fail to support either of these goals effectively and efficiently. However, by choosing a learning platform that supports people at the 5 different moments of need, your technology investments will be used more widely and users will become proficient much faster too.

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