Just a few years back, everyone was at the mercy of schedules, availability, and even circumstances to get any type of service. TV schedules dictated entertainment. The chance of a cab passing by was what determined whether or not somebody got a ride. Classes had to be scheduled in advance so learners will know when and where the session will be.
With today’s advances in technology, on-demand services have been integrated into almost all aspects of everyday life. Media streaming services made-on-demand entertainment an industry standard. Mobile apps can now book transportation with just a button press.
Courses or needed information can now be accessed anytime by learners through what is called just in time training (also called JIT training).
Having to wait for the next classroom session has already become a thing of the past. No need to wait for weeks or months for the next available class schedule. With JIT training, it’s now possible to learn information – anytime, anywhere.
Moreover, the era of sitting in front of a desktop or laptop to take an hour-long eLearning course is long gone. The ability to take short courses through mobile internet and mobile devices has made learning-on-the-go become a possibility. Through the help of today’s technology, learning has definitely hopped onto the on-demand service bandwagon too.
What is Just in Time Learning?
There is actually no set Just in Time Training definition. However, the main gist is that it’s an approach gives employees the much-needed information right exactly when they need it. Think of it as another on-demand service – but more specific for employee training.
The best example of just in time training is when an employee needs to access product information. Take a sales representative as an example. This rep needs customer-critical information in order to answer queries about a certain product or service.
With just in time learning, this employee can just go online using their mobile device and search the company database for the appropriate information or the corresponding short course. This provides access to the right information, at the right place, and at the right time; hence the name ‘just in time.’
This approach works best with learners who do not have much time to spend in front of a computer. Sales representatives, construction personnel, and field scientists are some of the people who would greatly benefit from this type of training method.
What is needed to adopt Just in Time Training to the business?
Just-in-time learning doesn’t automatically apply to any business. There are particular organizations that will be a perfect fit for it. It’s matching the right culture, with the proper tools, and the right type of learners that will determine the success of any JIT approach. Here are six elements that will determine if a business is ready for JIT learning.
1. A Cultivated Culture of Learning
JIT training, would require a lot of support and effort from the business. The most important aspect is the cultivation of a learning culture in the organization. In order to adopt a just in time training model successfully, learning has to be a fundamental part of the business.
In this regard, training is not treated as a separate process, but rather an integral aspect of the business itself. A well-cultivated learning culture equates to the company’s training program as one of the best ways to produce business results.
2. The Use of Responsive Technology
Responsive technology is the key to successfully employing just in time training methods. Since this approach puts flexibility as its number one driver, the tech to deliver it has to be adaptable too.
The JIT methodology is most effective for personnel who work in the field; thus, is mostly used by employees that do not have much face-time with computers. Most of its learners will be utilizing mobile devices and mobile internet to take the courses.
The intended audience needs these courses and technologies ‘to-go.’ And since this is the case, technology – like the company’s learning management system and courses – have to be accessible on multiple devices and platforms like computers and mobiles.
3. Short, yet highly Relevant Content
The intended audience is always the biggest consideration in terms of designing courses. The same goes for just in time training. Due to the nature of their work, target learners have limited time online.
This, therefore, means that the usual forty-five minute to one-hour eLearning module just won’t be the best way of delivering courses. Content for just in time learning methods should be short, yet highly relevant – about one to a maximum of five minutes long.
4. Content focused on Work-Related Competencies
Content should be short, yet relevant. And to be pertinent in such a limited amount of time, will definitely be a challenge. The best way to address this is to focus solely on courses that address actual competency gaps. Courses that address these issues attribute effectiveness to two points: careful analysis and sound data gathering methodologies.
Although course creation might be the least demanding task in creating just in time training content, the bulk of the work rests on data gathering and analysis. Employee feedback surveys, focus group discussion, and on-the-job observations are excellent sources of data.
5. A System that Categorizes and Organizes Courses Efficiently
The biggest demand of employees in this type of training approach is that courses must be categorized and organized in such a manner that searching for them is easy. Having a powerful learning management system that can quickly and efficiently search and display results is also a big plus.
Categorizing courses help learners find whatever they need with the least possible amount of time and effort. Thus, no opportunity is missed and the integrity of learning ‘just in time’ is upheld.
6. The Inclusion of the Social Aspect of Learning
One of the drawbacks of just-in-time training is that almost all courses are asynchronous. This means that there are no facilitators and that learners are left their own. In order to get more support to learners, social learning has to be enabled.
This gives support to the learners by giving them access to learning peers, subject matter experts, and coaches. Just in time training examples of social learning include FAQs for the course, discussion boards, and live chat.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea
Not all training approaches are equal and always regard utilizing Just in Time Training with great consideration. While on the training department’s side, it might seem a very feasible and effective option. Implementing it will mean less time spent on designing and implementing courses.
Do take note though that it might not even be an option especially if one or two of the six factors stated above (especially the learning culture), is missing.
But, if you find can get the right organization with the right tools and resources employing the right set of learners, then you just might find a winning formula in JIT learning. And having all six factors doesn’t automatically equate to the success of a JIT program, everything still depends on the training team’s execution and follow through.