How to Use The 5 "Moments of Need" Model In Corporate eLearning

How to Use The 5 "Moments of Need" Model In Corporate eLearning
Summary: In this article, I'll share how you can use the 5 “moments of need” to your advantage when designing eLearning courses and training events. Capitalizing on these “moments of need” when designing and developing your eLearning courses will help you to create deliverables that improve knowledge absorption and retention, which is the ultimate goal of any learning experience.

The 5 “Moments of Need” in Corporate eLearning and How to Address Them

According to the “Five Moments of Need” model set forth by Bob Mosher & Conrad Gottfredson, there are moments when a learner requires certain bits of information in order to perform assigned tasks more efficiently and effectively. In addition, these moments allow learners to expand their knowledge base and skill sets. As such, each “moment of need” should be viewed as an opportunity to improve performance and build upon learners’ strengths while fine-tuning their weaknesses.

  1. Learning for the first time.
    This need can be addressed in a variety of ways. You can create an eLearning course that allows learners to acquire new information or develop new skill sets, or even perform a task that has not been carried out before. Many eLearning courses, modules, or training events, can be modified to meet this need, which will serve as a foundation upon which the learners can continue to build their skills or expand their knowledge pertaining to the subject matter. One of the most effective ways to help learners to acquire new knowledge is to show them the benefits associated with learning this information or behavior. For example, you can design a training module which walks them through a particular task that they will be required to perform on-the-job and then let them know all of the real-world applications for the new knowledge they are absorbing. You can also design activities which they can complete on their own (such as self paced eLearning courses), so that they are able to go at their own pace and learn these new concepts when it is most convenient for them.
  2. Expanding knowledge base.
    This moment of need pertains to situations wherein learners want to learn more about a particular subject or need to expand their knowledge base/skill sets in order to perform a certain task. For example, a learner may want to acquire more information about a specific job responsibility in order to enhance his/her performance. Accordingly, a learner may need to build upon a skill that he/she feels that it might be useful in the near future in order to complete a work task. You can incorporate this moment of need by assessing learners’ current knowledge through exams and surveys, so that you can offer them the eLearning courses/modules, or other support tools that would enable them to build upon what they've already learned. You can also give them access to resources or references that would help them to enhance their level of understanding through self-studies.
  3. Remembering and applying learned concepts.
    This occurs when learners must apply information or skills they've already acquired in the past. For instance, if a learner is on-the-job and is trying to remember how to complete a transaction through the POS system, an employee manual or online guide can become an invaluable tool. Typically this moment of need happens in real time. As such, the learners must be able to access the information quickly and conveniently, so that they can acquire the information they need to know almost immediately. Therefore, the best way to incorporate this moment into your deliverables is to develop quick, bite sized modules or online references that offer key pieces anywhere, anytime, such as on mobile devices.
  4. When things don't go according to the plan.
    This moment occurs when things go wrong and learners need immediate access to support tools that will help them remedy the issue. This often comes in the form of a help desk, FAQ, online forum, or live chat. This can be one of the most spontaneous moments of need in eLearning, simply because learners cannot anticipate when a problem will arise. For example, a learner might suddenly encounter a problem with his/her mobile device and then venture online to see if anyone else has the solution. When a problem arises, learners might look to see if any other learner has run into the same issue via Twitter or Facebook, or turn to the company's blog for additional support. Through this process, they are unknowingly expanding their knowledge base and learning new information that they may need in the future.
  5. When change occurs.
    This takes place when learners must make changes to the way they currently carry out a task or update the comprehension of an already learned concept. For example, if a company is updating its policies due to compliance issues, learners would have to modify their understanding of the policies in order to stay current with rules and regulations. This is often one of the most challenging moments of need, as it requires a learner to unlearn a concept and then learn a new one, even if it's in direct conflict with the concept he/she has previously learned. To incorporate this moment of need into your deliverable you can create quizzes, which assess learners periodically, to ensure that they are up-to-date with changes that have occurred. If their quizzes or exams results reveal that they aren't knowledgeable about changes that have been made, then you direct them to the resources where they can acquire the updated information. You can also create a message board or notification system within your eLearning course design that gives learners the opportunity to find out about changes as soon as possible.

These eLearning “moments of need” tips can be applied to virtually any eLearning event/course/module in order to make it more meaningful and effective for the learner. While the first two moments are generally more structured, which makes them powerful additions to your eLearning course design, the last three are ideal for more informal learning, such as performance support.

Do you need to know about the implementation of the five “moments of need” model using support platforms and knowledge management tools? Then, you can read the Implementing the Five Moments of Need Model article.


B. Mosher & C. Gottfredson. (2011) Innovative Performance Support: Strategies and Practices for Learning in the Workflow. MacGraw-Hill Companies.