Mixing it up Learning design can be a complex process which should always begin by asking the...
The rise of just-in-time learning
Time has always been one of life’s more precious commodities. We’re paid for our time in a job we (hopefully) enjoy, we make time work hand-in-hand with compound interest for our retirement, and it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone, as it can never be unspent. With that in mid, let's talk about just-in-time learning!
An age of information and knowledge at our fingertips
As the pace of innovation in technology quickens, so do our expectations for how we are willing to spend time and what on. Information and knowledge, which once was the realm of the elite and well-financed, are both far more accessible to all in the Information Age.
Today, we expect answers to be available nearly instantaneously—whether we search for a query ourselves or simply ask aloud, “Hey, Google…”. There is a major cultural shift in momentum around how people view their time and how they want to consume content. In comparison to more traditional times where news and current events were announced in periodic intervals (through the newspaper or on scheduled radio/TV broadcasts), it’s now possible to keep abreast of developments happening on the other side of the world within minutes of them occurring. This answer-now requirement has merged into the workplace in the form of just-in-time learning (JIT) where today’s workforce is tapping into training and job-related assistance at the moment of need, as with other information sources.
The rise of YouTube expert tutorials
Need to code in a new programming language? No fear. Need to expand your branding skills? All good. Need to navigate around a new SaaS application? The Internet has your back. There has been a dramatic rise in recent years in the number of YouTube tutorial experts. There are YouTube videos on practically everything from niche aspects of software development to dropshipping and other entrepreneurial fundamentals to arts and crafts. Plus anything you can think of in-between.
There is reassurance in having constant access to the Internet. It’s that feeling that no matter what job or challenge is delegated to you, the training resource or how-to video is just a couple of clicks away. This accessibility notion is the drive behind JIT learning.
Just-in-time learning development
Along with developments in learning theory, the just-in-time learning approach has driven many businesses to adapt their workplace learning and development training strategy to meet this answer-now requirement. Rather than locking employees away in long training sessions, companies share repositories of information that can be accessed at any time by employees, as and when they need it. Right from the onboarding process and beyond.
Businesses have slowly begun to identify the ineffectiveness of long interminable training sessions. Thanks to changes in learning technology and instructional pedagogy, this development has been a catalyst for change in inspiring such companies to come up with new training methods that foster JIT learning behaviour.
In a business environment, the concept is driving a brand of training material that employees can access and learn from (e.g., about company processes, tools, technologies or product information), when they need it most.
The many forms of just-in-time learning in workplace learning and development
James L. Moseley, in his book, Training Older Workers and Learners, rightly idealises that this learning concept is the intersection of workplace learning and development together with performance. As such, the material required is short, concise, and content specific—typically directed at a single, unique learning objective so employees can access and learn the information quickly before they are required to apply it ‘on the job’. The content can take the following forms:
- ‘How to’ video tutorials
- Tips, tricks, solutions, and hack blog articles
- Self-guided courses, such as short programs or massive open online courses (MOOCs)
Advantages of just-in-time learning
The whole concept is actually inspired by Toyota’s famous lean manufacturing manifesto named ‘The Toyota Way’ which describes only using effort when it’s required, instead of ahead of time. Thanks to this concept, just-in-time learning benefits have been identified as the following:
- Enhanced worker productivity
- Improved precision
- Easy access to up-to-date and comprehensive information
- Facilitated learning on the go
- Speeds up the learning process
- Improved learner access to knowledge
- Engaged employees
- Optimised knowledge retention
How can you steer your workplace learning and development toward just-in-time learning?
JIT learning requires embracing a new mindset when it comes to learning design. In considering the knowledge and content being created, the Learning Designer should take into account the context and timing (even just-in-time learning needs to remain on point and relevant), to ensure that the material is shared and distributed optimally when needed most. The LD should optimise for continual learning as well as how the training material applies to real-world scenarios. (For more on what a Learning Designer’s role is, catch up with Oppida CEO, Bianca Raby’s article on What does a Learning Designer actually do?)
Every organisation’s situation will differ according to business-critical needs. The following questions, though, will be helpful for determining whether your training material is conceptualised toward JIT learning:
- Where and when will this skill or knowledge be applied?
- What will have the greatest influence on the employee’s ability to perform their job, or change their behaviour for the task in hand?
- Can the material be seamlessly accessed at work?
- Can the content be translated into JIT learning?
- Do we have the required skills to design and optimise these learning experiences?
Workplace learning and development teams typically deal with high expectations and limited resources for in-house training strategies, and just-in-time learning can help overcome both of these challenges. To implement JIT learning at your organisation:
- Provide learning material that is accessible in bite-sized chunks on the job
- Leverage marketing tactics to motivate employees to use JIT learning
- Get buy-in at the top: help management scale just-in-time learning resources
- Redefine how your business measures workplace learning and development
If you’re keen to explore how Oppida can help implement successful and engaging online course content to meet your training needs, reach out to us today here.