Learning Just in Time
By Bruce Tulgan
How does anyone learn faster than the accelerating obsolescence curve nowadays? “Just in time,” of course, fueled by the latest and greatest technology:
- Search engines and menu-driven information systems allow anyone to find multiple answers from multiple sources in a heartbeat.
- Shared work product libraries allow users to avoid reinventing the wheel by accessing past high-quality work product, which can be tapped for quick learning, as well as lifted and reused to jump-start similar projects.
- Wiki technology is the ultimate collaboration facilitator by enabling different individuals to contribute to a work product from anywhere any time.
- Social networking allows anyone to build mutually rewarding relationships with people of similar interests—inside the company or out.
- Instant messaging means anyone can ask anyone they “know” anything at any time.
- Simulation tools allow for low-stakes, high-frequency experience acquisition and technique practice of nearly any skill or performance environment.
- Push technology allows for reminders and reinforcement to be sent to learners on any schedule ad infinitum.
While patient learning may be a fast-disappearing luxury, our research shows that just-in-time learning cultivates a different kind of deep knowledge: diversity of exposure, multiple skill sets across disciplines, and the ability to learn quickly. People learn well and fast when they need to learn—when they encounter specific skill or knowledge gaps that prevent them from completing a task or achieving a desired tangible result. If a training tool anticipates the learner’s real-world skill and knowledge gaps and makes the right information easily available to fill those gaps as needed, it’s just in time.