Five Moments of Need and Learning Technologies

I’ve just started work on a review of technologies for learning design and delivery for a large corporate organisation.  The output of this review is a high level 3-year technologies implementation plan.

One of my first steps is to prepare a set of requirements that the selected technologies should meet.  I also wanted to frame some generic use cases that could be used to help select and screen a suite of technologies.  The 70:20:10 framework may have been adequate for this purpose.  However I was concerned that it may limit the range of technologies considered.  Instead I’ve used the “Five Moments of Need” model described by Bob Mosher and Contrad Gottfredson, in their 2011 book, Innovative Performance Support.  The authors summarise these moments in an eLearning Industry article as:

1.  New: Learning something for the first time

2. More: Expanding knowledge of what has been learned.

3. Apply: Acting upon what has been learned. This can include planning, remembering, or adapting.

4. Solve: Using knowledge to solve a problem in a situation when something didn’t work out as expected.

5. Change: Needing to learn a new way of doing something. This requires giving up practices that are comfortable for practices that are new and unknown.

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Mapping Technologies to the Five Moments

Below is my initial mapping a range of learning technologies against the five moments.  I’m sure that this mapping will be refined as I work through the review and consider more specific use cases and delve further into technologies that I’m less familiar with.

Notes on mapping:

  1. The technologies are not mutually exclusive e.g. video may be used as part of eLearning, virtual online sessions or social learning.
  2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a label that seems to be applied to a range of functionality from basic automation of processes to more sophisticated adaptive and personalised learning.  I need to clarify what forms of AI are in scope.

Initial observations on mapping

The map points out the relative inflexibility of eLearning and Learning Management Systems across the range of moments of need.

I’m sure that there are some boxes that could be marked with a cross in the table, even if a little creativity would be required to use them to meet a specific moment. Even so, there are a lot of crosses entered, suggesting that some of the technologies are very versatile.   To ensure that the mapping assists in discriminating between technologies I may update it to highlight the moments that each technology is particularly strong in meeting.

Your thoughts?

I’m curious about whether others have a different view from that shown below as to whether / how a technology can be used for different moments of need.

I’m also open to questions you may have that I could potentially answer as I undertake this review.

I look forward to your thoughts in comments against this post.


  1. #1 by tanya on October 6, 2017 - 4:49 pm

    Hey Michelle, awesome idea to map learning technologies using the five moments of need – I think that’s a genius idea – really pushes and frames the organisation’s thinking towards utilising tech for workplace performance support.
    This is where context enters the picture and has potentially a huge impact on what this map looks like – it will be different for different organisations and employee contexts – because the 5 moments is a performance support model, whether or not a technology supports the informal workplace moments – and what technologies support it depends a lot on the specific workplace context for that employee – something that’s much more obvious with diverse , particularly operational – blue collar or field based employees. Mainly because some of them simply won’t have access at all to some of these technologies on the job, usually due to safety reasons. In the transport agencies I work in bus drivers, train drivers, guards, track workers, and other operational employees in safety critical roles can’t have mobile devices turned on whilst on the job (due to dangers of distraction) – thus wouldn’t actually be able to use, video (or social learning, virtual online, or microlearning) to ‘apply’ or ‘solve’ on the job, as these technologies can’t be accessed. In contrast corporate white collar knowledge workers have easy access to these forms of technologies in their flow of work.
    For operational employees, it’s actually a lot more interesting – as their performance support then has to be integrated into whatever system it is they are using to to their job – e.g. the bus or train dashboard for drivers…and there have been some really interesting tech innovations (many driven by employees!) integrated into PPE to support performance e.g. a tiny GPS enabled security camera integrated into customer service staffs’ ID card to protect their personal security on long distance train journeys; a camera built into a hard hat helmet for rail field technicians to record footage at incidents they are investigating, robots (AI) removing paint on the harbour bridge (this one actually replaces the human workers rather than supporting them…so isn’t strictly a ‘learning tech’)….if you’re interested there are stories in the transport mode magazine (which I thought was just internal but actually is available externally

    Performance support is really exciting because it’s the space where you really start to see a blurring between ‘business’ and ‘learning’ technologies – it is simply just use of technology in general to support performance (learning is kind of a by product). That’s why I think it’s so genius you’ve used this model to map learning technologies, great thinking!!

    • #2 by Michelle Ockers on October 7, 2017 - 4:49 am

      Great point about context Tanya. The final map with specific technologies along the top row will be different across a range of organisations. The challenge of integrating performance support in the work environment of operational workers has been significant for many years – technological developments are certainly offering a wider range of opportunities. I love the helmet-mounted camera (thanks for sharing these examples). There is a lot of innovation in field service. At a Field Service Management conference I attended earlier this year there were examples such as Augmented Reality being used via glasses to walk technicians at switching stations through checklists, and of course use of drones for inspection of remote equipment.

      Interesting aspect of the five moments model, is that while it was conceived in the domain of performance support, I think it is applicable more broadly across the ‘learning lifecycle’ (there’s an idea / concept I could unpack – I’m interested in the ‘learner journey’ as an adaptation of ‘customer journey’ approach I’ve seen in customer experience projects).

      You are right about performance support blurring boundaries for L&D. Only yesterday I was in a conversation with a group of L&D and IT practitioners at an organisation where they were grappling with the questions of whether L&D has a role to play with document management systems and practices in an organisation. I say Yes, as it’s important that people are able to readily find good quality resources to help them to do their job and this can address needs that might otherwise be inappropriately be directed toward L&D (“we need training in xyz”). I often see a gap in organisations where no-one is on top of architecture and protocols for document/file management. Sometimes it falls within Knowledge Management domain, but many organisations do not have a KM team. Sometimes IT will take on responsibility in a governance role. When I was at Coca-Cola Amatil I stepped into the void and took on SharePoint governance for my business unit which expanded into performance support and learning solutions so people could get more out of using the platform. Feel like I may have digressed here. Your reply opens up a lot of issues.

  2. #3 by Mariana on October 6, 2017 - 7:03 pm

    I’ve used e-learning on an LMS to address apply and change. Using the training environment of our customer database, I
    Incorporate scenario assessments using real customer data so staff can apply e-learning course content. Also created a range of 60 sec video tutes & workbook for org to learn new database. All rolled out via e-learning on our LMS

    • #4 by Michelle Ockers on October 7, 2017 - 4:55 am

      Hi Mariana, I like the video approach and scenario assessments. I’m curious about whether users access the video tutorials ‘in the moment’ within the LMS. I have a sense that putting performance support inside an LMS is a bit like storing toys in a warehouse rather than at eye level on the shelf in the toy shop – are they close enough to point of need that they actually get used for performance support, or are they not adequately visible and easy to get to (e.g. when someone can’t figure out or recall how to do something on the customer database do they have to think to look on the LMS, and then log in to the LMS and do a search)? Is there some way of getting the videos ‘closer’ to where the work is being done e.g links or pop-ups from within the customer database. Cheers, Michelle

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