Learning at the moment of need – the time is always now

So much to learn, so little time, and so many methods of learning. The formal. The informal. Learning in the here and now. The list goes on, and in the ever changing, fluid, developing world of work, there is ever more need for that learning to be accessed in an easier way. Now. Right now. The moment of need.

Increasingly, employees seek information at the time of need, rather than the traditional methods of ‘event based’ learning, centred around courses, flip charts and handouts, and more often than not delivered by a training professional, learning has become more flexible, more mobile and more accessible, as a reaction to similar changes and developments in the way we work. In more and more areas of our lives, we need mobility, we seek mobility, and that need pertains to how we wish to access training just as it does to everything else.

In 2013, Toward Maturity reported that 43% of learners said that access to learning via a smartphone or tablet as either ‘very useful’ or ‘essential’. That figure will only ever grow as Millenials become part of the workforce. They will seek their training, that learning in less formalised ways, and more in the moment of need. But how do we define that moment of need? What does it mean?

Organisations who recognise the benefits of mobile learning are able to build the training their employees need, and structure it around The Five Moments Of Need- a model proposed and defined by renowned Learning and Development leaders Dr Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher, which lays out their five distinct moments of learning need.

First time learning

A new course, a new task as part of our job. New information at the beginning of a learning journey. At this moment, we need access to training materials and support from training providers. This is where we can build foundations, the cornerstones for learning, which can be developed and expanded as the employee becomes further engaged. This is a key moment of need.

Additional learning

There will always be a moment when our interest has been caught, or we simply need to know more, to add to the learning we’ve already completed. A top-up. We don’t necessarily stop learning once the training is finished. At this particular moment in need, we may well understand the training, and its content, but we may well still need access to more.

While we can approach both of these moments of need with formalised training, via courses, both online and classroom-based, webinars etc, there is a need to recognise the many benefits of mobile learning at this point, and with particular reference to the following two learning moments of need.

Recalling or applying the learning

This is where the more flexible learning, mobile and easily accessed, can come into its own. This moment of need calls for just-in-time training. Hermann Ebbinghaus’ work into memory and recall concluded with his ‘forgetting curve’, by recognising that the most opportune moment for retaining information is just prior to when the individual forgets it. But what does that mean?

When learners are expected to put the training into practice, this opportunity to boost their learning is an absolute must. And as we know, by using methods such as Spaced Repetition, providing bit-size chunks of training, workplace learning becomes a constant and continuous process, whereby individuals can choose when and where they access the content depending on this moment of need.

When things go wrong

We’re all only human, and none of us can predict something going wrong or not to plan. And therefore, this moment of need is when individuals need access to learning instantly, and in real time, on-the-job situations. Live chat, interaction with peers via the organisations social media, FAQ pages, online staff forums can all provide answers to any problems which may arise in the workplace. More often than not, a colleague will have encountered similar issues previously, and know where to find those answers. Keeping this access mobile and flexible makes all of this simpler.

Changing times

We all face moments when we need to understand how to deal with change, how to approach the difference that change creates. But change can be seen as a challenge by some, particularly with reference to workplace learning. Individuals react in a variety of ways to changes in their work. The knowledge we gain, the training we need to retain, should be flexible and easily adapted to developments in circumstances. In the workplace, we should be adequately equipped to cope with change. The many variants of the workplace, therefore, demand the just-in-time approach to training that mobile learning can provide.

Again, as in the previous moment of need, mobile learning can provide solutions, figuratively and literally putting training options in the hands of individuals who recognise their moment of need.

The Five Moments Of Need is indeed a valuable and powerful tool for building the delivery of training for a workforce ever demanding for change and digital, mobile solutions for a digital, mobile world. 

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Persia is passionate about helping organizations improve employee engagement across their professional development initiatives.
Published: 17 Aug, 2016