Just-in-Time Learning

Just-in-time Learning


Information Sweet Spot


We live in an Information Age.  Finding the “Information Sweet Spot” is one of the today’s most important skills to master.

The reality is that everyone perceives information through their “nature and nurture” created lenses.  The challenge then is finding your unique information sweet spot.   Of course, finding your own unique information sweet spot for every life situation becomes more difficult as we acquire new information.   Because not only do we have to store and access all the stuff we already know, but we also have to optimally incorporate the mountains of new information being created constantly.

One way the @lantis® family of learning communities help find the information sweet spot is by giving the learner the tools to help filter and focus on the most important information.  Also, the @lantis® family of learning communities employ a Learning Management System that uses device and location independent, self-guided micro-learning, and context sensitive databases intended to help learners filter out noise and focus on the critical “nuggets” of information needed to perform specific tasks and solve problems at the best time to solve those problems.

A Learning Community makes obsolete the traditional class where learners are expected to waste a lot of time sitting through traditional classroom courses.

The mind-set of just-in-time learning is: “As soon as I have this little piece (of information), I’m out of here,” explains Heinrich Koenen, vice president and dean of The Masie Center, a learning and technology think tank in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Just-in-time learning incorporates Internet/Cloud-based applications as well as physical CDs, Satellite channels, and traditional publishers.

The benefits of Just-in-time learning are manyfold.  Perhaps one of the best benefits, is the reduction of travel and education costs.  The other big benefit is that learners like the just-in-time approach because they can train at their own pace, using the most convenient device, wherever, and whenever they like.

Couple just-in-time learning with Micro-Learning, Learners constantly customize their training to fit their needs and engage in online collaborative learning communities, where they can exchange experiences and access the latest opinions from around the world.

Market Potential

Analysts and corporate leaders say electronic learning is mushrooming. According to Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp. (IDC), the market topped $1 billion last year and is expected to grow to $11.4 billion in 2003.

Cost savings is one factor fueling this growth. Cushing Anderson, an IDC analyst, says one day of classroom training typically costs $500 to $1,200, while one day of electronic learning runs from $100 to $500.

There are also big savings in increased productivity and efficiency. Learning Communities cut time by letting learners grab only the chunks of information they need to solve the problems facing them.

Just-in-time learning solves the problem that information can be essentially perishable.  Said another way, information has a “half-life.)

The just-in-time approach allows information providers to update information continually.  This is opposed to a traditional classroom where the knowledge gained from classroom training can quickly become obsolete.

Examples of Just-in-time Learning


Electronic learning is big at IBM. Last year, the company saved $200 million in internal training costs related to traditional training sessions and time away from work, according to Rick Horton, general manager of IBM Global Services’ Learning Services group.

IBM provides its 6,000 business partners with 10 satellite channels of partner and product information. The system was set up because IBM partners said they weren’t getting information fast enough to sell IBM products, says Horton.

Satellite receivers can be installed at any location, and for $1,500 per year, users get access to the most recent product-specific news and partner-related announcements. IBM also set up a Web-based application to supplement the satellite system.

Sales Compass

Another initiative, called Sales Compass, a Web-based application that gives IBM salespeople the latest information about their customers prior to making sales calls, helps salespeople make effective pitches, says Horton.

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab & Co.’s electronic brokerage unit launched an interactive Web-based learning center in December to provide free investment education to prospective and existing customers.  Although the brokerage expects that a reduction in customer information requests will cut costs, “that wasn’t the driver,” says Janet Lecuyer, vice president of electronic learning at Schwab’s electronic brokerage unit.  Educating customers reduces their fears about investing and “moves them along in making a decision to invest,” she explains.

Schwab’s online learning center, which offers courses in the fundamentals of investing and will later offer material for more advanced investors, was set up so customers can go through an entire course sequentially or choose only topics of interest.

The Schwab learning center is designed to be convenient to use, because customers said they “didn’t have time to commit to a specific curriculum,” Lecuyer notes. “They wanted to be in control.”

Striking a Balance

But just-in-time learning has limitations. Most analysts and users say it won’t replace classroom instruction altogether.

Sue Goldberg, president of Northeast Training Group Inc. in Chestnut Hill, Mass., says just-in-time learning works only up to a point. Most studies, she explains, indicate that instructor-led training is still the best way to learn.

The idea that just-in-time learning will replace classroom instruction is “baloney,” says Anderson. Corporate training, he says, will eventually evolve into a mix of delivery methods.

“You have to offer a range,” says Anderson. “The delivery vehicle will always depend on the content.”