The five moments of need: designing with the learners in mind

Earlier this month, determined not to let the tube strike stop me, I braved the crowds of Oxford Street and walked halfway across London to get to the IITT’s conference, Training 2010, and I’m very glad I did. In particular, Bob Mosher’s two seminars were well worth the walk. His keynote presentation, about designing for true blended learning, offered some real food for thought. For instance, I know we all talk about ‘point of need’, ‘just in time’ and ‘on the job’ learning, but Bob’s explanation of the five moments of need really brought this to life for me. The five moments are (roughly paraphrased):

  1. Acquiring first time knowledge
  2. Wanting to know more
  3. Remembering and applying learning
  4. Keeping up when things change
  5. Fixing things that go wrong

According to Bob, the learner lives 80% ‘below the line’ (in the bottom three moments of need), but 80% of training is delivered ‘above the line’ (in the top two) – that’s a massive misalignment. This has really stuck in my head and is definitely making me think differently about what I do and why.

What’s important for closing that gap and supporting learners in the world where they spend 80% of their time is not simply delivering short bursts of e-learning by breaking down an hour long course into bite-sized chunks, telling people they can access them as and when they have a spare few minutes and then assuming that they will.

It’s about taking the time and trouble to identify the ‘pain points’ experienced in real life, every day work and designing targeted, task-specific resources in the most useful form – whether that’s a short piece of e-learning, a job aid or something else more appropriate. This will ensure relevance and effectiveness, and will deliver real performance improvement. It will also improve the user experience: rather than being forced to take training with no immediate purpose or benefit, learners are being offered exactly what they need to know, when they need to know it. They’ll see the training as something designed for them, to help them do their jobs, rather than as something the business has to roll out in order to get a tick in the right box.

It’s also about making sure people know what those resources are and where to find them. Bob pointed out that one of the most used but least effective and efficient ways that people learn is asking their neighbour. In order to reduce that, all other learning assets need to be not only well designed but also well marketed and signposted, otherwise people won’t use them and they’ll simply languish in a dusty corner of the intranet.

Bob encouraged everyone in the audience of his seminar to think about what they would do differently as a result of the conference. I will certainly be taking the principle of the five moments of need with me into projects from now on, encouraging the clients I work with to think less about the boxes they need to tick and more about what their learners really need in their everyday working life to perform their roles effectively and efficiently.


1 thought on “The five moments of need: designing with the learners in mind

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The five moments of need: designing with the learners in mind | Good To Great --

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