Making Just-In-Time Training (JITT) Work for You
Could your employees use just-in-time reminders about work processes or procedures? Handy tips on how to refill the printer, calculate key metrics in a spreadsheet, or recalibrate the laser cutting machine? Just-in-time training (JITT) might be just what you need, but what do you need to know to make sure it works? This week, we'll look at when to use and how to develop and deploy JITT.
Just-in-time training, also called just-in-time learning, is a set of short learning interventions delivered at the point of need, when and where learners demand them. When done well, JITT should:
- Fit within the workflow
- Provide performance support
- Be easy to access
- Be learner-driven
But what does it mean to do JITT well? What differentiates good JITT from indifferent training, and how do you make sure you're creating it?
10 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of JITT
1. Don't rely on JITT for all training needs
What is Just-In-Time Training (JITT) and When Do You Need It? lists several problems that JITT isn't likely to resolve. Use other approaches as your primary driver when you're dealing with:
- In-depth, theoretical learning rather than performance support
- Learners who don't know they need to improve their performance
- Mandatory initiatives like compliance training or anything else that requires documentation of completion by all learners
JITT can play a complementary role in these situations, but it's not suitable as a core training strategy.
2. Consider JITT whenever employees are looking for help
JITT is a learner-driven approach to training. Learners take the initiative to access it when they decide they need it. Therefore, it excels wherever learners themselves have identified a need for support.
Employee consultation should be a part of any corporate JITT initiative. Where do employees want help? What supports are they seeking? What needs aren't being met?
3. Use task analysis as the basis of JITT
JITT is primarily used to aid employees in completing work tasks. Developing effective training of this type begins with the breaking down the tasks to be completed. "For any required knowledge, skill, or procedure content managers need to be able to analyze the task, separate into steps, and sequence the learning in an appropriate context for each stage of the process."
4. Make JITT short and to-the-point
How much detail to include is always an important decision when building learning material. For JITT, the emphasis should be on practical information over theory, and it should include only the information necessary to get the job done. For example, if you're outlining a new process for appeasing unhappy customers, JITT should serve as a reminder of how to complete the process. The psychological theories underpinning the customers' distress can be passed over or covered in a complementary form of training.
It's also possible to go too far in paring down your material. Adult learners like to know the reasons for what they're doing, so a brief description of the consequences of skipping a procedural step or making a common mistake can be valuable.
5. Use JITT to refine skills your learners already have, not to teach new skills
Short interventions designed to fit within your employees' daily workflow are not the ideal format for teaching novel skills. "Imagine trying to learn how to code with only YouTube tutorials. You can do it, but it's going to be frustrating and inefficient."
Effective training requires having the right intervention in the right place. Consider using a standard course, complete with any beneficial details and theory, to introduce a new skill. Then add JITT in a supportive role, helping learners remember and apply their new skills.
6. Include scenarios and examples
If effective JITT involves minimal detail and theory, what should it include? Necessary information, like procedural steps, but also scenarios and examples. Linking learning to the real world not only helps with retention, it shows learners how to put what they've learned into practice - and that's the point of just-in-time training.
7. Make assessments and exercises optional
Assessments and exercises are not usually necessary for performance support, and such interactions can disrupt workflow. If you're sure assessments or exercises would add value to your training, consider making them optional so those learners just looking for a quick reminder can skip them.
8. Ensure your JITT offerings are well organized
Good JITT isn't just quick and easy to use; it has to be equally easy to find. The best way to organize your offerings will depend on your organization and its specific needs, but an efficient search function is a must. Users might need to search by job function, position, task, location, and other parameters.
9. Make sure it's easy to access
Access involves more than just organization. JITT often takes the form of eLearning or microlearning, but will your learners always have access to a computer when they need JITT? mLearning is more flexible, but learners on a factory floor or in the field won't necessarily carry their phones with them. So what will work for your learners?
- eLearning or mLearning
- Printed procedures or other job aids
- Stickers with handy tips
- QR codes linking to mLearning
- Learning kiosks on the job site
How you reach your learners involves analyzing the technology and other resources available to them at the time of need. Beyond that, your only limit is the extent of your creativity!
10. Consider the role of social learning
While social learning is invaluable and should be a part of any organization's learning offerings, where and how you incorporate it should be the result of careful consideration, not a desire to follow the latest trend. There are differences of opinion on the optimal role of social learning in just-in-time training. Some consider it essential to include social components, like instant messaging or discussion forums with colleagues or access to experts, while others hold that one of JITT's greatest advantages is its ability to be used in isolation. Does social learning fit into your JITT, or is it better placed elsewhere?
In this article, we've looked at when to use just-in-time training, how to build it, and the considerations involved in organization and access. JITT has a lot to offer most organizations, but, as with any form of training, the greatest benefits come when it's used in the right times and places and in the right way.
Jill is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems with more than 10 years of experience researching, writing and designing effective learning materials. She is fascinated by the English language and enjoys the challenge of adapting her work for different audiences. After work, Jill continues to leverage her professional experience as she works toward the development of a training program for her cats. So far, success has not been apparent.