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By: Karla Gutierrez

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September 6th, 2016

Is Your Company Embracing Just-in-Time Learning?

corporate training | Industry Trends


What is Just-in-Time Learning?

It is walking down to the desk of a more experienced co-worker to ask for a solution when you get stuck on a project. It is looking up Wikipedia when you come across a novel concept during your browsing sessions. It is calling up mom when you want advice on a recipe.

Just-in-time learning is having access to knowledge just when you need it. It is not having to wait till the public library opens or you can catch hold of a subject matter expert.


The concept has its origins in the world of manufacturing. In the manufacturing industry, efforts are made to lessen inventory costs and reduce wastage by perfectly synchronizing the manufacturing and distribution of products to the exact time when these are needed. 

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What is Just-in-Time Learning in the Context of Corporate Learning?

Just-in-time learning is all around us today. Facebook and LinkedIn give us access to subject matter experts and professional advice in a jiffy. There is almost nothing that you can’t look up on search engines and find the answers to. MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) make it possible for you to attend a (virtual) class and learn from instructors when YOU want.

Your learners have become habituated to having on-demand access to knowledge. They don’t want to wait around for you to roll out your courses; they want to be able to find lessons, tips, and cheat sheets just when they require. They don’t want to be yanked out of their desks to attend a training session; they want to sync the learning with their busy schedules.

Actually, 57% of employees expect learning to be more "just in time," or as needed, than it was three years ago. (Based on CEB Research)


The writing on the wall is clear: Embrace just-in-time learning to remain relevant to modern learner needs. [tweet this]


What Are The Benefits For Your Company and Your Learners?

Just-in-time learning is an “evolutionary response to the demands of a knowledge-driven and speed-oriented market place.” (Bradenburg & Ellinger, 2003, p 311)

The above statement summarizes the importance of this concept in today’s corporate training scenario. But below are its benefits in greater detail to help you understand why it is considered a game-changer:

1. It enhances worker productivity.

One of the principal goals of this methodology is to provide real-time performance support. The aim is to help an employee perform his or her job optimally by providing access to tips, tricks, solutions, and hacks just when he or she needs them, which is at the workplace and right at the point of action.

  • It improves accuracy. When workers can cross-check facts, go over a checklist, or review tips, they can perform their tasks more accurately.
  • It provides easy access to up-to-date and comprehensive information. In some cases, there is no need to attend classroom-training sessions or wait around for subject matter experts. Neither does the company need to spend time and money overhauling existing hour- or two-hour-long courses. 
  • It facilitates learning on the go. Because just-in-time learning facilitates delivering knowledge in bite-sized chunks, companies can keep their mobile employees informed.
    In his book Training Older Workers and Learners, James L. Moseley has rightly said that just-in-time learning is the intersection of workplace training and performance.

2. It speeds up the learning process.

People learn better and faster when they HAVE to learn. That’s why we tend to learn better on the job. It is not only because we apply the learning almost right away, but knowing that we HAVE to learn to hold on to our jobs or to earn that promotion adds a powerful motivational thrust that speeds up the learning process. In school, we learned faster the closer the exams were. Right? 

Corporate learners are busy people. You can make them click start a two-hour-long course, but it is hard to make them to sit through the whole course if they can’t visualize the relevance of the material. Just-in-time learning enhances relevance and relatability by providing easy to access content.  When learners identify a knowledge gap, they are compelled to look for solutions. When you provide just-in-time learning, they have the solutions that will help them fulfill their goals. They are more motivated to learn.

3. It improves learner access to knowledge.

How did you search for information about 15-20 years ago? People probably poured over countless books in the school or public library. Maybe you asked your teacher and then sat through an hour-long lecture to learn the gist of what you wanted to know. Learning was time-consuming then.

Enter technology and Internet.

Now with just a few of clicks of the mouse, you have a world of information at your fingertips. You don’t have to hunt around for information and then spend hours sifting through tomes to find out what is relevant to your question. You just have to type what you want to know, and search engines will pull up only the most relevant pieces of information from the obscure corners of the virtual world, in a jiffy.

Make sure you make your online training programs searchable. Include powerful search features in your modules or in your LMS, and help employees know how to navigate through the central repository of information. This improves accessibility to knowledge.

4.  It creates more engaged employees.

According to Bersin by Deloitte 2015's report, today’s employee has less than 1% of the working week to dedicate to learning. This means, if you want to grab their attention and keep them hooked, you'll have to give them access to short, just-in-time information. 

This will help you create more engaged employees because:

  • Employees have identified a gap in knowledge and are eager to learn.
  • Just-in-time learning embodies relevance. Learners learn exactly what they need to address specific knowledge gaps and apply it right away.
  • Employees can be on top of their game always.
  • Bite-sized and focused learning modules instill confidence in learners; they are more motivated when they know that they are not staring at an hour-long course and can go back to whatever they were doing after finishing the module.
  • Adult learners like to be in charge of their lives. Learning at the moment of need gives them this feeling of being in control.

5.  It optimizes knowledge retention.

Do you remember the dates from history you learned in middle school? Not likely unless you have had reasons to go over them in recent times.

A lag between learning and application causes a loss of knowledge and skill. It is natural. Pieces of information tend to get buried under layers of new memory that we form every day. Connections tend to get blurred both from a lack of application and with all the new connections we learn every day. On the other hand, immediate and/or continuous reinforcement transfers learning from the short- to the long-term memory.

So more critical than what you do before learning is what you do afterward. This post-learning stage is known as the “sustain” phase where ideally, cascading levels of integrated performance-support solutions are provided to employees just when they need to apply the knowledge.

Idea: Use PDF Job Aids for Just-in-Time Training


Just-in-time learning addresses the training demands of the modern workplace and the stringent needs of a rising  millennial workforce. Convenience, accessibility, relevance, efficiency, and engagement: just-in-time learning embodies the hallmarks of a memorable learning experience. 

survival guide elearning

Wondering what  just-in-learning looks like?

See examples here.

Sources:

Learning Just in Time by Training Mag https://trainingmag.com/content/learning-just-time

Eric P. Bloom: 7 Advantages of Just-In-Time Training http://www.managermechanics.com/GateHouse/Formatted_164_ValueOfJustInTimeTraining.pdf

5 practical ideas for Embedding learning into the workflow http://towardsmaturity.org/shop/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/In-focus-Embedding-learning-into-the-workflow-1.pdf

Achieving Organizational Agility through Just-In-Time Training http://www.globaletraining.ca/pdf/JIT-Whitepaper_01.19.pdf

Improve Organizational Performance with Just in Time Learning http://blog.pixentia.com/improve-organizational-performance-with-just-in-time-learning

The Decline of Memory Retention Over Time - The Forgetting Curve https://www.retrieve.com/blog/the-forgetting-curve

Just-in-Time Training (JITT) and its Implications for Teaching and Learning http://www.irma-international.org/viewtitle/11913/

About Karla Gutierrez

Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT.

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