24 June 2021

Learning at the point of need

Woman smiling looking at learning on laptop screen

The emergence of the global pandemic forced organisations to change working practices quickly, in many cases overnight.

It was perceived that this would be a short-term shift and life would soon be back to normal, however this has not been the case. The way people work, and access to traditional learning methods, has changed, and as a result, the digital skills gap has closed significantly.

People are more willing to try and solve issues when they happen. In everyday life, we solve problems without even thinking about it. It’s become the norm to Google something or follow the steps on a YouTube video. This is a good example of learning at the point of need.

Traditional methods, such as classroom learning, are no longer leading the way, as learners seek to answer problems in the moment through easy to access, resources.

Classroom training was previously viewed as learning at the point of need as it solved an identified training need, usually by the organisation. But this is the point of need was for the organisation and not the learner. The emphasis has now shifted towards the learner and organisations need to adopt a “resources not courses” approach to help support employees when the need arises.

Mosher and Gottfredson highlighted five moments of need that organisations need to tap into:

  • New – learning how to do something for the first time
  • More – extending your understanding of previous learning
  • Apply – acting upon previous learning, including planning how to resolve, remembering what may have been forgotten or adapting to a new situation
  • Solve – working out how to solve problems when they arise or when things don’t go the way we expected them to
  • Change – finding a new way of doing something which may require a change of skills

The key to this approach is to provide learners with easy-to-use, point-of-need support to help overcome real-life challenges. This enables them to perform their current jobs more efficiently and to a higher standard, helping them to work at their potential and move further towards their future goals. This is achieved by implementing easily accessible learning, which increases competence and confidence towards solving a problem at the point of need and gets better results.

Digital resources can help organisations to address specific work challenges, but they should not be viewed in isolation and may still require face-to-face or online support including learning paths, bite-sized content, peer review assignments, social features and discussions.

It is worth noting that it’s not a case of creating an infinite library that covers every single eventuality. It is about giving learners a place to start and resources that can help with the immediate need. This could be something as simple as a link to a document that confirms a policy or the steps required to solve a challenge.

Harnessing the power of a Learning Management System (LMS) can help provide learning paths and resources to aid knowledge retention to support learning at the point of need. Using the social features, communities and discussions, within the LMS, will help learners to get support with how to apply the resources in a business context.

Visit the MHR Academy to discover how the right LMS can help you retain and develop a productive and committed workforce within your organisation.

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Alan Mullen Image

Alan Mullen

I joined MHR as a Learning Product Owner, the People First product, in February 2021. I have over 20 years’ experience in Learning and Development across a wide range of industries and I am looking forward to bringing that knowledge and experience to improve the current learning offering within People First.

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