This is a brief introduction to the topic of just in time learning and how I use it when passing my knowledge on to others across a variety of subjects.
What Is Just In Time Learning?
Just in time learning means to only learn a particular subject or topic when you actually need the knowledge. I use this technique myself frequently when I need to solve a problem, undertake a specific task or quickly learn a new skill.
Teaching Specific Skills
Just in time learning is also the way I prefer to teach others, as having a specific requirement in mind when learning something new allows the learner to implement the new knowledge immediately. As an example, I am often asked by work colleagues to “teach me how to use _______”. The ‘blank’ varies, sometimes it might be Microsoft software such as Project or Visio but is occasionally process related, such as ITIL Problem Management.
My answer to such questions is always the same – Do you have a task that you need to complete? If they don’t have a use for the software in mind then why would they need to learn it now? There are likely to be much more productive uses of their time.
When they come to me with a specific task, such as turning a list of items in a spread-sheet into a project plan in Microsoft Project or drawing a diagram in Microsoft Visio, then I can work through the process of completing the actual task with them.
As an analogy – you wouldn’t go up to David Beckham and ask him to teach you how to play football but you might ask him to teach you how to hit a free-kick with a ‘bend’ in it. The difference is that the second question is a specific skill that can be taught and then used straight away.
Is Just In Time Learning Effective?
I am convinced that this approach provides a much more effective learning experience and I have received great feedback when using this method. The learners often comment that they retain the knowledge for longer.
This is certainly not a comprehensive discussion of just in time learning but I hope this has given you a flavour of how valuable the technique can be. Do leave a comment if this topic is interesting to you and if there is enough interest I can expand further on the subject. One area might be how the more formal technique known as Just In Time Teaching is used in some classroom settings, particularly in higher education.