Training That Cuts To The Chase

How “just-in-time” learning can help you focus on what you need to learn, for right now.

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About a year ago, I decided to gift an iPad that I no longer had use for to my septuagenarian mother.  Her reaction surprised me: she instantly loved it.  In fact, she now uses it in place of her address book, has found an app to generate her weekly grocery list, and even manages her bank accounts online.  Now my weekly visits often turn into tutoring sessions beginning with “How do I do this or that?” questions.  Her main challenge?  Things are always changing.  Menu items move, icons are added, and new features are made available with each update.  At first, this was extremely frustrating for her.  But, she soon began to warm to the idea of new features.  For example, the latest three-option autocomplete feature has made it so much easier for her to type emails. She loves it!

So, what’s the lesson here?  I realized that it’s better to answer the questions when she asks, but not to overwhelm her with a bunch of additional information she doesn’t need. She doesn’t want to know it all; she just wants to learn what she needs to learn to do one thing … right now.  Perhaps there is a broader lesson here for software training in today’s workplace environment.

The fact is, the speed of technological advances makes it near impossible and definitely financially hindering to have learners stay current with products and training required to do their job. Also, companies do not want to invest a lot of money in ‘pre-training’ their learners.  Training learners up front all at once will not guarantee that they have retained the knowledge and skills when they are later confronted with either an on-the-job problem they need to solve or with an update in products or technologies. For most of us, information that is not put to action quickly is simply forgotten.  If the information is not practical or relevant immediately to your job, chances are, you won’t remember it.

The solution to this is what is known as “just-in-time” learning. Just-in-time learning can provide you with all the training you need, right at your fingertips, through a self-service learning platform.

Here are a few situations where the learner would benefit from just-in-time learning.

Keeping up with new product features

With today’s software being updated so frequently, it’s really hard to keep up with new features by relying on traditional training classes.  You don’t want to sit through an entire training course just to learn the 5-10% which is new to you.  With just-in-time learning, you take the initial training to learn the key features and then continuously learn just-in-time as new product features are released.

Spacing out your learning

Rather than learning everything you could possibly need, all at once and up front, it makes more sense to learn what you need when you need it.  Studies show that spacing out learning, over time, will both improve retention and inhibit knowledge decay.  That’s because the adult brain needs time to take in new information and assimilate that information into knowledge. Too much information at one time is like an overfilled cup.  Consequently, the spaces between the active learning sessions become equally as important as the time spent learning.

Refreshing your knowledge

When we learn something new, like a new competency, we tend to retread over concepts we have encountered before, except now we can interpret them with more experience and perspective.  As a result, we get to solidify our existing foundation of knowledge. In addition, just-in-time learning allows the learner to consume the learning content over and over as needed to increase retention.

Learning task-based solutions

There are times when you will not want to learn all the skills and knowledge out there about a product. In fact, you’ll just want to learn how to accomplish a very specific task. For these situations, just-in-time training is also a great fit, as it will allow you to learn exactly what you want, when you want to learn it. 

In case you were unaware, Qlik offers just-in-time learning today through our self-service learning platform Qlik Continuous Classroom.  Check out what Gartner had to say about it in their new Magic Quadrant report!

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