Five moments of need.

People spend 8-10 hours a day (or more!) on the job, that’s 40-60 hours a week (or more!), 172-258 hours a week, 2064-3096 hours a year. The average single workplace learning event is 4 hours in length. How realistic is it to believe that in a single learning event we can impact what people do in the remainder of their work lives?

Dr. Conrad Gottfredson identified five “moments of need” for learning:

  • When learning for the first time
  • When wanting to learn more
  • When trying to remember and/or apply previous learning
  • When things change
  • When something goes wrong

How does the learning that you design, deliver, and/or enroll participants provide resources for learners at each of these moments of need? Here are some tips and thought-starters to help:

  • Provide job aids. Refer to the objectives – what is/are the most important skills/steps/information that participants will need to access? If you’re not sure, ask their bosses. Then provide a takeaway job aid for later reference. Laminated cards are popular for this, but also consider other options. My favorite is the “moving message pen”, a ballpoint pen with a special area on the side of it. Each time the “plunger” is clicked to expose or hide the ballpoint, the message on the side of the pen changes. I have used this for 5 steps to coach and 4 steps for lock-out,tag-out…you get the idea.
  • Web page. As a part of an intranet website, provide web pages devoted to specific learning topics and/or training programs. Include key takeaways, books and other resources for further learning, everything a learner might need for a “moment of need.” Update this page as content and needs change. Notify previous participants so they can update themselves.

Learning assessments. Used during training to help people identify targeted strengths and areas to improve, self-assessments can also be used as a reference after training. I use the popular DiSC assessments in a lot of my training, and frequently someone will bring in a DiSC report they have done in a previous training program and say they have read it and referred to it. People seldom throw out information about themselves.

  • Podcasts. Links for these audio programs (MP3 or similar files) can be included on the web page and/or sent out in an email to former participants. These audio programs can update previous training content and outline steps to take in “what if” scenarios. By the way, click here if you would like a podcast on a presentation I did for ASTD’s International Conference and Exposition. Watch for more information on podcasts in future sticky notes. They are easy to record right at your PC.
  • Letter to self. This is one of my all-time favorites. At the end of the learning event, ask participants to reflect on what they will need to refer back to later, and to write a note to themselves outlining the specifics. Suggest they save this for future reference. For blended learning, elearning, and webinar formats, ask them to write an email to themselves and save it on their hard drive.

The key here is to make learning and information available to the learner when they need to access it, on demand, so it sticks.

Until next time. . .

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