Providing Just-In-Time Learning To Support eLearning


What Is Just-In-Time Learning?

Just-in-time learning is an approach to teaching and learning that provides learners with information or activities focused on a specific topic or skill that is accessible whenever it is needed. This approach can be used in many ways to support learning.

How Just-In-Time Learning Can Support Learners?

Research has shown that grit, growth mindset, and deliberate practice improve retention and success in online learning [1]. Just-in-time learning, when used effectively, can help to build a grit and growth mindset as it reduces frustration and encourages confidence by providing learners with immediate focused support enabling them to successfully complete assigned tasks. This type of learning also provides deliberate practice as learners access it when they need to apply it and can access it as many times as needed. Since just-in-time learning activities are short and focused, multiple options can be provided for the same topic to meet different learning styles and preferences.

Just-in-time learning can also be used to provide students with the opportunity to learn any essential skill or knowledge not covered in the course but needed to complete coursework. For instance, students may be assigned the task of writing an essay, creating a video, or presenting a PowerPoint to assess their knowledge of course content. However, some students may need detailed instructions on how to write an effective essay or create engaging videos or presentations. In these instances, just-in-time learning activities can be included that focus on these processes to provide immediate support for students as needed.

Anyone who has taught before knows that students come to you with many levels of prior knowledge related to the subject matter. With the use of just-in-time learning opportunities, scaffolding can be provided for those students who need remediation. Scaffolding introduces new learning in small increments, each building on prior steps and knowledge [2]. Through just-in-time activities that are scaffolded, students can bring their knowledge of the subject matter to the level needed to be successful in the course. This strategy reduces frustration and keeps all students engaged and interested by providing support for those who need it without holding back other students or making them participate in learning activities covering content they have already mastered.

Just-in-time learning activities can also be used to provide scaffolding for complex tasks for students who need help breaking the task into smaller steps.

The quality of blended or flipped courses can be improved with the use of just-in-time learning. Focused chunked instruction teaching the assigned subject matter can be presented online that students complete before coming to the face-to-face portion of the course. This approach allows content to be presented in multiple ways and accessed as many times as needed for comprehension. Students then come to class with a solid understanding of the content, which enables class time to be spent applying and enhancing that knowledge through real-life application, in-depth discussions, and other ways that are more thought-provoking and engaging than listening to a lecture.

Although this approach was designed for teaching and learning specifically in education, it has also been increasingly used in institutional training. Just-in-time learning can be provided for employees who need to learn or review skills, policies, or processes. This approach supports employees as it provides small chunks of focused training that can be accessed when needed and immediately applied.

Examples Of Just-In-Time Learning For Students

  1. Students are asked to create a timeline of the commercial aviation industry. The course content would supply the information that students would need to include in their timeline but does not include a lot of support for how to create a timeline and what should be included in one. Just-in-time activities could include samples of timelines that students review and identify common features that should be included in their own timeline. Another activity could provide an example of an interactive timeline including images that would encourage students to use a creative engaging design.
  2. Students are taking a dental assisting course that requires them to know the various areas in a dental office including the purpose and use of each. Other options than reading about the various areas would better meet the needs of diverse learning styles. A just-in-time activity could provide a virtual walkthrough of a dental office with each area having a clickable feature that provides details related to the purpose and use of that area. Another option could be a videotaped interview with a dental assistant explaining the various areas and their purpose and use.
  3. In an art appreciation course, students are asked to compare the styles of various famous artists. Providing online groups of images from each artist that students can pan through for review would help students illustrate the different styles. Seeing several examples of each artist’s work would be much more engaging and beneficial for comparison than reading about them in a text.

Examples Of Just-In-Time Learning For Employees

  1. A human resources department requires all employees to annually review their policies related to internet security. Rather than having employees simply read the policies and acknowledge they understand them, an engaging activity could be provided that is always accessible as a reference and for annual reviews. The policy topics could be easily displayed with clickable links that when selected provide details that include images, audio, and/or videos.
  2. A distribution company wants to provide an orientation for new employees that includes the location and description of various sections of the warehouse. In addition to having a live walkthrough, an online option could be provided for reference when needed. This just-in-time option could include an aerial view of the warehouse with clickable hotspots for each section that enlarges and describes that section.

Final Thoughts

When determining what knowledge and skills are needed “just in time” to support students, consider the following:

  • What skills are required to complete the assignments or assessments that are not taught in the course?
  • What prior knowledge is required to be able to integrate the new information presented in the course?
  • How can the subject matter be chunked into focused topics and presented in an engaging interesting way?
  • What scaffolding options may be needed for remediation and for complex tasks?
  • What different learning opportunities can be provided to meet the needs of diverse learners?

When determining what knowledge and skills are needed “just in time” to support employees, consider how just-in-time learning could be developed related to the following:

  • Current training being provided
  • Workplace issues or conflicts that exist
  • Knowledge needed for new employees
  • Specific knowledge needed for various positions
  • Professional development interests

  • *Click below to view samples. With a subscription, these interactions are easily customized and can be displayed on many different devices. Customization capabilities make these useful for many different purposes developed with your own content.

    Samples of just-in-time learning for students:

    1. Timeline Example
    2. Office Walkthrough
    3. Panning Images

    Samples of just-in-time learning for employees:

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