5 moments of learningWhen does your organization provide training to employees, when it’s a good time for you or when it’s a good time for them? If you are stuck too firmly in the first category, it’s time to start inching over, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) are excellent tools to help you get there.

In 2011, Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson fundamentally changed many firms’ approach to training when they introduced the idea of five moments of learning need. Their model turns training from organization-centric to learner-centric, resulting in training that is more relevant to learners’ needs.

The five moments of learning need are:

  1. New: When learning something for the first time
  2. More: When building upon what you’ve already learned
  3. Apply: When applying what you’ve learned
  4. Solve: When things go wrong or don’t work as intended
  5. Change: When learning a new way of doing something, which often requires unlearning and relearning

Traditional formats too often approach all training in the same way, such as through instructor-led training (ILT) or elearning courses. However, when you think carefully about these five moments, it becomes obvious that learners’ needs are different at each. As such, they need to be approached differently.

I agree with technology-based learning expert Eran Gal, who wrote at eLearning Industry: “…one of the [five moments of learning needs] model’s most brilliant points is its holistic approach to the various learning occurrences it identifies. As opposed to the declared aim of formal learning, which is specific learning achievements or certification, the goal of learning in the workplace is proficiency. In order to achieve proficiency,…one is required to combine formal, informal, social, and real-time learning strategies” [emphasis added].

As it happens, MOOCs are ideal tools for combining these various strategies. Let’s look briefly at how the MOOC format can address learners’ needs at each moment.

New: When learning something for the first time

Employees are frequently required to learn new things. Here, we’ll focus on two main training areas where first-time learning takes place: new hire orientation and when learning how to use a new software tool.

In many organizations, new hire orientation is fairly standard across the board, or at least it contains standard components—policies and procedures, corporate culture, and company protocols, to name a few. This type of content can be quickly and easily delivered in a self-paced, non-moderated MOOC using short videos with embedded comprehension questions and an end-of-module exam. More tailored content, such as for managers, can then be delivered via a more advanced MOOC or in a short ILT session.

Learning new software can be accomplished through video tutorials that are designed to be watched and re-watched as employees work through processes and examples. Read more about how learners interact with different types of videos in MOOCs.

More: When building upon what you’ve already learned

Many of the same ideas apply here as when learning something for the first time. MOOCs that build upon prior knowledge may include more advanced features, such as moderation, social and collaboration tools, and both more and more varied assessments.

Apply: When applying what you’ve learned

The moment of apply is where MOOCs really excel, in the form of providing just-in-time learning and performance support. Gottfredson and Mosher wrote in Learning Solutions Magazine, “[Apply] is the sweet spot of performance support. There is much that can and needs to occur here. And today we can do more than we have been able to do in the past. When people are at this moment, when they need to actually perform on the job, they need instant access to tools that intuitively help them do just that—perform.”

Because of its flexibility and its comprehensive nature, the MOOC framework is well-suited to provide performance support. Features such as course archives, video content, personal learning networks, resource sharing, and mobile learning together create a powerful performance support solutions that go way beyond the typical job aids.

Solve: When things go wrong or don’t work as intended

One of the main advantages of MOOCs over traditional training methods is their ability to incorporate real-world problem-solving, giving learners experience at the moment of solve in situations where the stakes are low. When things still go wrong, as they inevitably do, learners can use that experience combined with the same types of resources that are useful in the moment of apply (course archives, etc.). When solving problems, access to relevant documentation and the ability to communicate with knowledgeable others, via discussion boards and learning networks, becomes especially important.

Change: When learning a new way of doing something

Finally, things change, and in many industries today they change very fast. According to Gottfredson and Mosher, “This moment of need has been the least attended to, and yet is the most challenging. And since we don’t attend to it very well, it is often the most costly to organizations.”

The module-based approach of MOOCs can help companies meet learners’ needs at the critical moment of change. If new compliance training is required, a short course can be quickly created and instantly distributed to employees around the world. The same goes for when a new version of a software package comes out, or when a firm finds certain of its practices suddenly obsolete. MOOCs are designed in bite-sized chunks that can be replaced, updated, and moved around as necessary, and the ability to re-watch videos and access resources provides extra support for those who may take a little longer to “learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

MOOCs are not a panacea, but their module-based approach combined with their use of technology provides a tool training departments can use to meet learners’ needs at the crucial moments in a way that was not possible before.

Copyright 2014 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– Being a big believer in Technology Enabled Learning, Bryant seeks to create awareness, motivate adoption and engage organizations and people in the changing business of education. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson

Bryant Nielson - EzineArticles Expert Author
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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.

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