Just-In-Time Learning

There are many ways that you can become an expert in an area. 

You can spend years in school, have practical training, and then finally do the task on your own. This is the learning model for lawyers, accountants and doctors. 

Another approach is to learn a little bit and practice a lot. This is the approach used in apprenticeships and internships. With some education, learning on the job and figuring out problems in a real-world context equips people to find real solutions. 

A third approach is just-in-time learning. This format of learning is seen in formal institutions as they offer MicroMasters and micro-credentials. In your day-to-day work, just-in-time learning is practically applied when you learn exactly what you need to know when you complete a task. Generally, we feel that we need to abstractly know everything about a subject before we can do something practical with our knowledge. In fact, by acting on the knowledge we have, we often can learn much quicker because the gaps in the practical application of a topic show us the gaps in our knowledge.

Just-in-time learning looks like this:

  1. You know enough about a subject to ask a few questions. 
  2. You take the first step to practically applying your knowledge. 
  3. Whether your first step is successful or not, you will now know a little bit more about the subject, and you will know a few questions to ask. 
  4. Loop back to step 1. 

Studying until you are an expert in a subject or putting in many hours of supervised work are good paths to knowledge and expertise. Just-in-time learning is a good path to immediate results that grow in impact as time moves forward. 

Just-in-time learning matches the speed of life today, where it is expected that there will always be an immediate benefit. Try just-in-time learning on your next project or workday. You’ll be surprised at the benefit and immediate payback on your small investment of learning.