Five moments of need – your compass for workplace training

Five Moments of Need takes into account both formal and informal learning situations. It revolves around five possible real-life situations when a person might require information to accomplish the work task.

The β€œFive Moments of Need” model was devised by Bob Mosher & Conrad Gottfredson and is widely used and applied in workplace learning. If you ever produced learning in a corporate or professional environment, you probably came across this model – it is often mentioned as a desirable model to know in instructional or learning designer job specs.

In a nutshell, the model takes into account both formal and informal learning situations. It revolves around five possible real-life situations when a person might require information to accomplish the work task.

If you ever had to learn for a new job, you know that there are different learning moment or learning requirements. You might, for example, need comprehensive training as onboarding to your job. In other cases, you might need just certain bits of information to perform assigned tasks more efficiently, or maybe in some cases, to perform a variation of the task or act it in slightly or completely changed circumstances.

What are the Five Moments of Need?

  1. Learning for the first time (NEW)
  2. Learning More (MORE)
  3. Applying what you’ve learned (APPLY)
  4. When things go wrong (SOLVE)
  5. When things change (CHANGE)
The first two moments refer to formal learning procedures and are generally more structured.
The other three relate to informal learning situations and are ideal for job aids, resources or performance support.
Let’s look at some examples.
5 moments of need 2

1. Learning for the first time (NEW) e.g. new hire training

GOAL: Teaching something new. It is used at the initial stage for training and onboarding the new hires.
This moment of need can involve both theory and practice. It can be instructor-led classroom sessions, webinars, or scenarios performed in a live training environment. An example: training learners (customer service agents) on regulations, best practice, procedure, and data and allowing them to practice that in a live training system – so that trainees can learn and develop work habits that correspond with the support system.
5 moments of need 3

2. Learning More (MORE) e.g. workplace ongoing training

GOAL: To expand already existing knowledge
It is usually self-paced learning-based expanding the existing knowledge. This is where you can introduce e-learning, but it is an option. Sophisticated and expensive e-learning production is not always necessary if all professional information is stored in the support or knowledge management system.
For the eLearning resources, some level or interactivity, videos, animations, scenario-based learning and gamification can help employees explore the area of interest. Feedback is quite important here too – it can refer learners to the best suited pre-designated support items.
5 moments of need 4

3. Applying what you've learned (APPLY) e.g. remembering and applying knowledge and skills in real-time

GOAL: To assist workers at work when they apply the learnt concepts and provide real-time performance support.
This moment usually occurs in real-time when learners need to apply information or skills they’ve already learnt and acquired in the past. Training materials or support systems must allow the worker to access the information almost immediately, so quick and convenient access is an important element. And this is where the micro-learning and intuitive, minimalistic mobile learning design limiting the number of pages to be clicked through are often applied.
Examples of training resources that could support this moment of need include bite-sized resources such as quick guides, ‘How to’ videos, FAQs, product summaries, direct links to help tools, such as calculators or apps. Resources supporting the application of knowledge in real-time should ideally be offering key pieces anywhere, anytime.
5 moments of need 5

4. When things go wrong (SOLVE) e.g. being able to solve unexpected problems and issues

GOAL: To provide immediate answers/solutions to problems that employees face at work.
This moment happens when things go wrong, and workers need immediate access to support tools and information to resolve the problem.
These learning moments are the most difficult to predict and plan. They are unexpected for learners who cannot anticipate when a problem will arise. But they can be expected by employers who can plan possible support scenarios – for example, common routine issues or system malfunctions. They can then devise the support items guiding workers step by step through the solution and completing the task.
A big part of it could be leveraging the social aspect of learning and enabling experience sharing among employees who encountered similar problems. By participating in process, they are unknowingly expanding their knowledge base and learning new information that they may need in the future. Examples here can include blogs, videos, social user groups, live chats, or discussions.
5 moments of need 6

5. When things change (CHANGE) e.g. re-learning and adapting to the new situation

GOAL: To reduce the resistance to change by providing the necessary training and resources
This moment of need occurs when learners must make changes to the way they currently do things or re-learn an already learned concept. For example, re-learning policies if a company is updating its policies due to compliance issues or re-learning a procedure if a company automated a specific process. Coping with change is a major challenge for the organization because it requires a learner to change the behaviour, unlearn a concept and then learn a new one. Often it is in direct conflict with the concepts that they previously learned.
Depending on the change’s scale & potential impact, you can introduce a mix of instructor-led, online & mobile learning training. Peer-to-peer information sharing, meetings and email newsletters to set expectations – all of that is important to manage that last moment of need.
The eLearning β€œmoments of need” model can be applied to any eLearning event/course/module.

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