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The 5 Moments of Learning Need

By Asif Rehmani
Updated June 4, 2020

Dr. Conrad Gottfredson, an expert on performance support in the workplace, coined the term "five moments of need" to describe the framework used to map the multiple learning and performance support opportunities in any organization.

The 5 moments-of-need:

  1. When people are learning how to do something for the first time (New)
  2. When people are expanding the breadth and depth of what they have learned (More)
  3. 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. (Apply)
  4. When problems arise, or things break or don’t work the way they were intended. (Solve)
  5. 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. (Change)


A moment of need occurs in real time. For instance, when you are attempting to share a folder in OneDrive for the first time, there is a moment of need to understand how to complete the task. You often experience multiple points of need throughout their careers – especially when it comes to new technology.

In order to foster successful learning/training, employees have to be engaged at these moments of need. They'll improve task competency if they are able to learn how to do their work in real time. This delivery of real-time guidance is called Just-in-Time Learning.

Just-in-Time Learning

According to Training Magazine, "An [integrated training] portal can be created providing pre-populated, highly relevant content from the industry's most respected thought leaders. It can be customized and integrated into an existing portal, learning management system (LMS), enterprise intranets, mobile devices, and more. This brings learning into the workflow, providing context-based learning opportunities."

That is what VisualSP has done by developing Just-in-Time Learning products such as the VisualSP® Help System. One of the advantages of providing Just-in-Time Learning, rather than allowing workers to rely on a web search, is that the employee can be confident that the system being accessed has the most updated and valuable content from leading resources, instead of a search that may produce less reliable and less authoritative information.

There are risk and cost factors connected to workers aimlessly searching the web for guidance. Searching through myriad potential sources wastes time and leads to inconsistent learning outcomes.

Abstract Learning Versus Just-In-Time-Learning

Abstract learning, which takes place during training sessions, doesn’t transfer easily to work situations. Learners are able to immediately perform on abstract problems, but not able to apply the acquired knowledge in specific contexts – at the moment of need. It just doesn’t get activated. Abstract learning can be beneficial, but will workers be able to recall that information when they need it most?

Just-in-Time (JIT) Learning leverages context and microtraining by imparting knowledge in the user work space. JIT learning puts different cognitive functions in motion.

Better Training Outcomes

A report titled Building Staff Engagement revealed that learning innovation through a performance support system (such as VisualSP solutions) results in a 23% improvement in the speed of a new system rollout, and a 12% reduction in time to proven competency. Among the key performance indicators for learning that have been improved are:

  • Reduced time to competence for using new systems
  • Increase in productivity
  • Reduction in errors


Increased Capability to Deal Efficiently with Problems without Escalation

For information workers, the training experience is critical to strong adoption and faster time to value. From the workers’ perspective, the goal when they are learning a new system is typically to get the job done.

“It simply isn’t acceptable to throw learners over the classroom...wall 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. Organizations must deal with the challenge of keeping their employees up to date with learning and development opportunities. Most technology training approaches don't accomplish this effectively and efficiently. But with the right integrated performance support, workers learn and work at the same time, creating better technology adoption outcomes.


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