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Optimizing Just-In-Time Learning with Rich Experiences Practical Strategies and Potential Shortfalls

  • 25 October, 2023
  • Reading Time: 6 mins

Just-in-time (JIT) learning serves as a crucial tool in the corporate training arsenal. JIT learning gives employees the right knowledge or skills exactly when they need it. This enhances their productivity and efficiency by supporting them in their moments of learning need.

To make the most of JIT learning, workforce training departments must

  • analyze the needs of the target audience,
  • design content that aligns with real-time work contexts, and
  • build clear and concise learning objectives.

These objectives must then be supplemented with bite-sized, context-rich learning materials. It doesn’t end with materials; employees must be familiarized with the application of this training, so engaging them is key.

Modern workforce training methods use active learning exercises, multimedia elements, and engaging strategies like gamification or microlessons. Let’s take a look at how to enable these rich learning experiences for JIT Learning.

Rich Learning Experiences to Support Just-in-Time Learning

Performance Support Apps

Extended training sessions can cause employees to miss important information while on the job. Performance support apps are software tools specifically developed to aid on-the-job training. These can be developed to give users immediate support and guidance when they encounter challenges in their workday. An app can guide users step-by-step through complex or infrequently performed tasks, reducing the need for extensive training and increasing task proficiency. For example, an app for construction workers that offers videos or checklists on safety guidelines, step-by-step instructions, and equipment usage tips for on-site tasks. To make it work, the app should be lightweight, device agnostic, and accessible even offline or in low internet areas.

Real-Time Learning Assistants

Although chatbots aren’t new, Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities have vastly improved the proficiency of these AI-driven assistants. They can now be integrated into work platforms, offering instant responses and guidance to employees’ questions and issues, assisting in problem-solving and decision-making. These assistants can be trained to address the immediate needs of employees by understanding the context of their problems and pointing them toward the best possible solution. AI assistants can integrate multiple learning modalities, including text, audio, and video. This supports different learning styles and enhances the overall learning experience. These days, AI learning assistants are equipped with emotional intelligence capabilities to detect learners’ emotional states. This helps in providing appropriate support and encouragement during challenging learning moments.

Experiential Learning Modules

Learning formats like simulations, serious games, and AR and VR are gaining popularity for just-in-time learning. AR and VR technologies bring the real world into the learning process. Employees can use AR headsets to receive real-time instructions and guidance while performing tasks. In JIT scenarios, VR allows employees to immerse themselves in a lifelike environment where they can apply knowledge immediately. For instance, maintenance technicians can use AR glasses to access repair manuals or engineers can use VR to troubleshoot complex machinery without physical access. This also applies to games and simulations that can be tailored to suit JIT Training scenarios. In sales training, learners might interact with a simulation of customers, allowing them to refine their sales techniques.

Interactive Videos and eBooks

Interactive eBooks are accessible on demand, allowing learners to access content when and where they need it. Whether it’s a quick reference or in-depth learning, learners can find the information instantly. Its search and navigation features can help employees quickly locate specific information or topics within the eBook. Videos, on the other hand, offer an engaging, visual medium to quickly grasp complex concepts. Interactive videos enable learners to make choices within a storyline, influencing the outcome. These videos are particularly effective for training in areas like ethics, conflict resolution, and decision-making. Short, focused video segments can be developed in the format of microlearning, delivering bite-sized information and SME input, ideal for immediate learning needs.

Workplace Crowdsourcing Apps

Workplace crowdsourcing apps are tools that enable organizations to harness the collective intelligence and skills of their workforce to address challenges and solve problems. These apps facilitate the gathering of ideas and insights from employees at all levels, creating a more inclusive work environment. Workplace Crowdsourcing Apps can connect learners with mentors who can offer immediate guidance, feedback, and coaching on specific work challenges or projects. Encourage employees to share their expertise and experiences through a company’s intranet or collaborative platforms, enabling peer-to-peer knowledge sharing in real time. Take, for example, an IT company, where junior developers receive guidance and mentorship from senior programmers.

6 Important Instructional Design Principles of Just-In-Time Workforce Learning

1. A survey won’t cut it

It may not suffice to conduct a survey when understanding the specific context of on-the-job challenges. Have learning facilitators or supervisors perform on-the-job observations to identify where employees may require JIT support. Record these observations and use them for analysis. Experienced employees can provide insights into the learning needs of their colleagues, as they often assist in JIT situations.

2. Make your goals measurable

Define clear and measurable learning objectives for each JIT Training program. This helps set the expectation for what employees should be able to do after completing the training. It will also ensure that the content is contextualized to the learners’ role. JIT training materials should align closely with real-world scenarios and job tasks. Be realistic with your goals depending on the timeframe and budget allotted for developing this training.

3. Cut the frills

Break down content into small, easily digestible modules. JIT learners are often distracted by ongoing tasks and may not have much time on the job, so providing bite-sized, focused content is more effective. Keep “just-in-case” materials handy for learners who may need more in-depth knowledge at times.

4. Engage, engage, engage

Use visual aids, infographics, videos, and interactive components to engage learners and aid comprehension. Visual content can convey information quickly and effectively. Create quick-reference guides, job aids, and performance support tools that are readily accessible during tasks. These tools should help employees navigate processes and find answers quickly.

5. Design for all ages, devices, and abilities

In the case of JIT technology, navigation, and ease of use should take precedence. Focus on creating an intuitive, user-friendly interface that is device-agnostic, not requiring learners to switch between platforms or tools. It’s important that JIT learning materials and technologies are accessible to users of all abilities. Consider aligning your workforce learning programs with WCAG standards for accessibility.

6. Assess and Personalize

Assess learners’ existing knowledge before delivering JIT content. This helps avoid redundancy and ensures that learners receive content appropriate to their skill level. JIT training should also encourage self-assessment and offer resources for improvement after training.  Use a digital assessment platform to deliver feedback on an employee’s understanding. AI-driven platforms can use data from these platforms to adapt content and difficulty levels based on individual learner progress. This ensures that JIT content remains appropriately challenging.

Where JIT Learning Falls Short

Just-In-Time (JIT) learning, while highly effective for practical and immediate needs, is not a complete workforce training solution. It must be made a part of your overarching workforce training goals. It does not work in scenarios

  • where employees need knowledge of complex theoretical concepts,
  • where beginners lack foundational knowledge,
  • that require regulatory and compliance documentation, or
  • that demand a full contextual understanding.

JIT learning may also fall short in environments with rapidly changing work conditions when resources are inadequate, or in cases of low learner motivation, digital literacy, and a lack of clear learning objectives.

To optimize JIT learning, it’s crucial to assess specific learning needs and objectives, and for some scenarios, a blended learning approach combining JIT with structured methods may be more effective for long-term skill development.

Incorporating performance support tools, intuitive navigation, and feedback mechanisms is the backbone of successful JIT learning. Regular updates and integration with workflow tools are essential for maintaining the relevance of JIT learning materials. By integrating JIT learning into the workflow and motivating our teams to see it as a lifelong learning journey they can continuously apply newfound knowledge. This approach leads to a more agile and effective workforce, meeting the demands of the future.

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