The secret to career success in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world can be elusive. How can people stay current with their careers when everything is moving so fast? One secret we’d like to share in this article is just-in-time learning.
The “just-in-time” idea has become popular and has done a lot to affect how people practice business. It was originally used in manufacturing, conceived as a way to meet consumer demand.
Since then, it has grown into more of a philosophy that means “producing with minimum waste.” This allows some latitude in how the concept can apply.
What Is Just-in-Time Learning?
Take the philosophy just described. Add what we know about adult education and learning theory. It’s not hard to guess what just-in-time learning might entail. It’s learning that addresses sudden and unexpected needs.
Just-in-time learning means having access to learning when you need it. It could be about higher education reform. Or it could refer to corporate training and continuing education for healthcare professionals.
At some point, a version of just-in-time learning might augment traditional curricula. Perhaps farther down the road, it could replace them altogether. This is exciting!
Best Practices for Just-in-Time Learning
Currently, most just-in-time learning is done through some form of e-learning. This doesn’t necessarily need to be the case, though. It might move in different directions in the future.
eLearning Industry is a portal for those interested in this and related phenomena. It’s an entity that seems to be integrating other forms of learning with just-in-time learning.
eLearning Industry lists the following best practices for just-in-time online training:
Create a Detailed Road Map
Corporate learners (and others) need to achieve thorough and cohesive outcomes. They should be shown how to identify and connect different learning opportunities.
Pair Each Learning Objective with a Just-in-Time Online Training Activity
The idea here is to support the broader goal of just-in-time learning. This means assigning or completing only what’s needed to meet a learning objective.
Focus on Relevant Work-Related Tasks and Skills
Each activity must focus on the current needs of the workplace sponsor. Of course, other learning activities can take place outside the workplace.
Create a Microlearning Online Resource Library
Just-in-time online training must be easy to access and comprehend. Employees don’t have time to look for the information they need. Nor can they complete extensive online training activities.
Develop Multiplatform-Friendly Online Training Content
For today’s busy adult learners, responsive design is critical. Learners must be able to learn just as easily on a phone or tablet as on a desktop computer.
Incorporate Real-World Online Training Opportunities
We believe this strategy is key to all learning in the 21st century. Technology “chains” people to their various devices. So, they might miss seeing what they’re learning about in action—even in their workplaces.
Integrate Social Support
This is another real-world connection. Learners need to be aware of and connect with other learners. More formally, they need to practice collaborating to solve problems. Less formally, they just need some clarification (or even a gripe session) from time to time.
Make Online Assessments Voluntary
Employees need the chance to check their progress and identify areas for improvement. Still, there may not be time to take a quiz after finishing the online tutorial. For this reason, online assessments should be completely voluntary.”
How Can You Access Just-in-Time Learning?
One benefit of just-in-time learning is that learners themselves determine their need for it. They do this when new concepts suddenly show up in their areas of expertise. It also addresses clients’ needs and expectations.
Since the concepts are so novel, though, how could someone identify the right opportunities? Where are the links and accompanying descriptions of what these opportunities consist of?
This initiative originates from corporate employers seeking learning opportunities for their employees. But what about those who want to learn, yet lack access or just don’t know where to look?
Here are a few examples of just-in-time learning providers of various types:
- LinkedIn Learning offers over 10000 expert-led, online courses and video tutorials. It also has a structured course library.
- Lynda.com (now part of LinkedIn Learning) offers short, sequenced courses on a wide range of computer programs.
- Shift Learning provides customized corporate courses.
- Learn with Facebook offers flexible online courses with an emphasis on digital marketing and career skills.
- Docebo has been called the “Netflix approach to learning.” It aggregates courses that relate to someone’s role or function in an organization.
- Grow with Google describes itself as “free training, tools, and resources to help you grow your skills, career, or business.”
There are volumes more sites such as these—though, as we’ve said, they aren’t well indexed. A Google keyword search might be the best way to identify what’s available on a specific topic.
Don’t forget about MOOCs either. These would count as just-in-time learning. MOOCs are set-up as college-type courses. However, users can usually complete them on their own time frame, coming and going as they please
What is Microlearning?
There’s no formal microlearning definition, but all microlearning-based training is necessarily brief. “This could either be small learning units or short-term learning activities.”
Microlearning is closely integrated with various other forms of contemporary learning. These include e-learning, just-in-time learning, micro-credentialing, certificates, and other initiatives.
These all challenge the traditional college semester, quarter, or other standardized learning intervals.
Here’s a great example of microlearning training used in safety-related services and industries.
The Future of Just-in-Time Learning
Just-in-time learning is catching on for sure, but it’s still in the early stages. There still is no clear or widely agreed-upon definition of it, or an organizational logic to guide its development.
If just-in-time training is to reach its full potential, it should do more to integrate the worlds of business and education.
Higher education especially is struggling to grow enrollments and ease student debt. It would be great to see it collaborate more.
We think it could benefit from working more with business, healthcare, and other powerhouse sectors of the economy. There’s been a gap between providers and users of skills knowledge, and application.
By the way, we have a growing repertoire of articles about the types of corporate and career learning discussed here. So please keep checking out our blog!