JIT Learning: Mistakes To Avoid
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How To Improve Your JIT Learning Program

Just-In-Time learning promises to help your organization stay agile, retain top talent, and increase productivity. If your JIT program hasn’t reaped any of these benefits yet, then you’re probably questioning the validity of the approach. Is it time to throw in the towel? Does the program just need more time to show results? Should you market it more internally? If you feel your learners aren’t benefiting from Just-In-Time training, then you might be making one of these mistakes.

1. Using Large Blocks Of Text

Microsoft Word’s help button probably represents one of the earliest forms of JIT eLearning. The problem? We haven’t moved on from it as learning designers. Those earliest systems just copied and pasted the instruction manual into the software help box. Today, our learners expect more than long blocks of text in their JIT learning.

The fix? Use visual communication to engage learners.

  • Distill complex information by making an infographic.
  • If you’re showing a process, create a GIF or a walkthrough video.
  • Use videos to improve engagement.

2. Pushing Out Too Many Notifications

Employees currently receive 50-60 interruptions per day. Email and IM notifications represent one form of interruption. So, they start to ignore them. But you don’t want your carefully crafted training to become another ignored text pop-up. Instead, your JIT learning will empower employees by giving them choice and autonomy over their learning.

The fix? Put the learning modules directly into the employee workflow.

  • Multiple companies now offer plugins to incorporate learning into popular software, such as customer-relation management software for marketers or Salesforce for sales teams or Slack for teams.
  • For frontline workers, post a QR code directly onto whatever tools they use to take them directly to the correct learning module on their phone.
  • Offer mobile solutions for access at downtimes for deskless workers.

3. Removing Learner Feedback Loops

JIT learning has one major flaw as a learning methodology: learners need to realize they have a knowledge gap. Certain professions have hardwired feedback loops. For example, software developers receive feedback when their code fails to perform properly. What if your profession doesn’t include a hard and fast feedback loop? How will you know what training you need to access? The hard reality is you won’t. You’ll continue giving a mediocre performance until someone tells you.

The fix? Give employees frequent assessments.

  • Create diagnostics to help learners choose relevant learning modules.
  • Provide a space for learner reflection on how well they’re using a new skill.
  • Create self-assessment tools (rubrics, checklists, etc.) to help learners figure out how well they’ve learned a new skill or if they need to keep working on it.
  • Use portfolios to document newly learned skills.

4. Using JIT Learning For Reskilling, Instead Of Upskilling

In a world of very low unemployment and digital disruption, retaining top talent means reskilling them constantly. With the half-life of a skill resting at 5 years, employees need professional development to stay current. JIT learning provides a compelling solution to this problem. JIT learning helps professionals with a good baseline of industry knowledge upskill, but learning brand new skills with JIT learning would be frustrating. Imagine trying to learn how to code with only YouTube tutorials. You can do it, but it’s going to be frustrating and inefficient. JIT learning provides performance support, not full-fledged training.

The fix? Provide a full course to reskill learners and use JIT learning for performance support.

  • Continue investing in Instructor-Led courses or other eLearning opportunities, even though you have a JIT system.
  • Consider buying training for your employees from an outside source, then complement it with custom JIT learning.
  • Create training supporting newly reskilled or upskilled employees because they are at high risk of forgetting any new learning.

5. Underestimating Social Learning

If you have a contextualized JIT ecosystem, you might wonder why you need to engage your employees in other ways. Isn’t JIT learning enough? JIT learning allows learners to find the knowledge they need to perform their key job functions, but it doesn’t reward innovation or help learners discover new efficiencies. In fact, JIT learning leads learners to groupthink since everyone uses the same learning modules to fix the same problems.

The fix? Add a social learning platform.

  • Social learning encourages innovation and agility because users generate the content.
  • Learners can "ask an expert" for help or post a problem for discussion with other employees in similar roles.
  • If you have a mentorship program, they can reflect on failures and successes to find greater productivity.

Fix Your JIT Learning Until It Shows A Great ROI

JIT point-of-work performance support can revolutionize a workforce. But it needs to be the right fit for your organization. Designing great JIT learning isn’t just about providing the right information. It’s about providing the right information in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. Use these easy fixes to help make your JIT the best possible way for your learners to attain the skills they need!