Adopting a Performance Support Mindset: The 5 Moments of Learning Need

It should come as no surprise that the way that people are choosing to learn has changed.

Gone are the days of attending multiple days of training to learn a new skill or software program. Instead, learners are looking up content when they need it most.

If I think about all the ways that I learned something over the past few months, I could rattle off a list of answers ranging from articles, books, and videos. Just a few weeks ago when I was putting together a new bookcase for my home office, I quickly flipped through the instructions and put it together in less than 30 minutes. Does this mean I’m doing to become Rhode Island’s Next Top Carpenter? Not a chance! But I did learn just enough to get the task done.

Performance Support Defined

The eLearning Guild defines performance support as “a tool or other resource ranging from print to technology- supported, which provides just the right amount of task guidance, support and productivity benefits to the user, precisely at the moment of need”.

In other words, performance support is a resource available at the moment of need that makes it easier for people to perform. Performance Support is not about teaching someone EVERYTHING there is to know about something; rather it’s about giving them the right amount of support, complexity, or detail right at the time they need it.

This might seem like a new framework to some, but performance support has actually been around for decades in the form of checklists, job-aids, help articles, process diagrams, recipes, you name it.

How to get into the Performance Support Mindset

Two years ago, I read Bob Mosher’s and Con Gottfredson’s book Innovative Performance Support.  The book provides a framework based on the 5 moments of learning need.

The 5 moments of learning need

  1. NEW: When learning something for the first time.
  2. MORE: When you’re seeking to learn more about something.
  3. APPLY: When trying to apply or remember something or adapt performance to a unique situation.
  4. SOLVE: When attempting to solve a problem or deal with something that has gone wrong.
  5. CHANGE: When something changes that requires a change in how work gets done.

The first 2 moments focus on the learner’s knowledge acquisition, whether this means training people on processes, procedures, or concepts for the first time or expanding upon their existing knowledge. The remaining moments of need shift to learners applying their knowledge, solving issues, or adapting to change. It’s helpful to keep in mind, that you would provide a learner with different content and information based on their moment of need. For example, if the learner is trying to solve a problem with a software program they might contact a service desk or read a help article. On the other hand, if they’re learning about an updated sales procedure, the learner may watch a video about the changed process.

Now, think about the 5 moments of learning need and where you may encounter them within your own lives. As you begin to think about the framework, I have a feeling you’ll be amazed with how frequently the moments come up within your day to day tasks.

In my next article, I’ll cover considerations about developing performance support and how to get buy in within your organization.

Ready to learn more?

Check out my Adopting the Performance Support Mindset session at Learning Solutions in March.

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