Knowledge on demand: What does ‘just-in-time learning’ mean for your corporate training?

Written by Ron Darby
Feb 20, 2018

There is something reassuring about knowing you have access to the Internet. It’s that feeling that no matter what gets thrown your way, the answer is just a google away.

This notion of accessibility has resulted in a phenomenon called ‘just-in-time (JIT) learning’. It happens every time we find a new recipe online, or watch a YouTube tutorial. In other words, it allows us to find the information we need, when we need it. So, shouldn’t this apply within the business environment? Well, in many contemporary businesses, it does.

Along with advances in learning theory, JIT learning behaviour has driven many companies to adapt their training strategy to JIT training approaches. Rather than engaging in long training sessions, companies provide repositories of information that can be accessed by employees, as and when they need it.

What is just-in-time learning?

JIT learning is a behavioural trait that has evolved through advances in technology and the Internet. Above all, it is a predisposition toward accessing the required knowledge when we need it.

In a corporate environment, the implication is that employees will want to locate and learn information (e.g. company processes or product information), just in time to use it.

JIT learning can take the following forms:

  1. ‘How to’ tutorials and videos
  2. Hints and tips
  3. Self-paced and self-guided courses, including online short courses and massive open online courses (MOOCs)

What does just-in-time learning behaviour mean for corporate training?

Over time, corporates have identified the ineffectiveness of long training sessions. This has caused them to rethink how they are training their staff, and how JIT learning behaviours can be fostered. As such, there has been a driving force to develop JIT training material.

JIT training material is short, concise and highly specific – directed toward a single learning objective. This allows employees to be trained just before they are required to actually make use of the information in their jobs.

Thanks to advances in learning technology and instructional pedagogy, companies can create a repository of information that can be accessed easily by employees, allowing them to learn new skills on the move.

Benefits of just-in-time training:

The following benefits of JIT training have been identified:

  • Industry-specific training: The courses can be tailored to suit the industry-specific needs of any company – including real-life examples and branching scenarios.
  • Optimised learning and retention: The attained knowledge is put into practice immediately, thereby improving understanding and retention.
  • Efficiency: The courses are designed to be short and effective, ensuring maximum knowledge-gain in the shortest amount of time.
  • Return on investment:By increasing the effectiveness of employee training, employers can maximise the return on investment, both in terms of time and money.
  • Multi-platform access: The course material can be accessed on any device, which means that learning can take place anywhere, any time.
  • Precision training: Through these directed approaches, employers can ensure that the right people receive the right training, at the right time.
  • Increased productivity and personal growth: Better training will increase workplace performance and productivity. It also allows employees to gain new skill sets quickly.
  • Shared knowledge: This approach gives employees an opportunity to share their knowledge and spread it throughout the business.
  • Satisfaction of needs: By equipping employees with the necessary knowledge and skills, their job-related needs can be met, allowing them to achieve goals more easily, and with a greater sense of confidence.

How can you gear your training toward just-in-time learning?

JIT learning requires a new mindset, when it comes to training design. In considering the knowledge being transferred, the instructional designer must also take the context and timing into account, in order to ensure that the training is integrated and distributed optimally. It is therefore vital to focus on continual learning, as well as on applying this knowledge within real-world contexts.

Every company’s situation will differ. However, the following questions are helpful for determining whether your training is geared toward JIT learning:

  1. When will this knowledge or skill be used?
  2. What will have the greatest impact on the learner’s ability to perform their task, or change their behaviour?
  3. Can the training be seamlessly integrated into the work?
  4. How do we ensure that the training is accessible?
  5. Can our material be translated into JIT learning?
  6. Do we have the necessary skills to design these learning experiences?

With whom should you work?

Corporate training is a fundamental part of induction and upskilling. As such, many corporates have hired instructional designers, and have even dedicated entire departments, to the development of training material.

Unfortunately, for some corporates, this function falls outside the scope of the business. However, there are many local, high-calibre e-learning companies that are able to address this need. Such companies comprise teams of instructional designers, animators, videographers and more, who have the necessary skills and resources. By working closely with the business and its objectives, they can design, develop and enhance training material, in order to deliver a tailored solution.

By pursuing this avenue, you and your business can gain all the benefits of enriched learning material, without having to hire more staff or build new departments. Simultaneously, your employees will be equipped with optimised pedagogical designs, leading to increased learning, better knowledge retention, and an improved ability to apply their skills. This results in enhanced productivity and creativity, as well as greater job satisfaction.

If you are up for the challenge of enhancing your own training material, follow the link below, for some best practices that can guide you.

INFOGRAPHIC: ESSENTIAL TIPS TO CREATE JUST IN TIME ONLINE TRAINING MATERIAL

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