Just In Time Learning – the future of workplace training.

“When you think about something and don’t really know much about it, you will automatically get information.”

Larry Page, Co-founder, Google.

As early as 2004, Google’s visionary founders predicted a future in which people didn’t have to search for information.

While this vision is a close reality in our consumer lives where most answers are only a search away on our smartphone, it still feels unattainable for many in the workplace.

In fact, when an employee is stuck on a process, they will often exit their workflow to search for the right folder for the right document, drill down into the right section to locate the exact paragraph they need to answer the question they have – only to find outdated information. This time wastage is not only inefficient but frustrating for the modern-day worker.

With the ever-changing world of corporate training, many trends have come and gone over the years. Improved methods of classroom training created the trend that became continuous sales training.

Most recently, we saw the rise of new corporate training solutions that implement microlearning to solve for the forgetting curve,  the rapid rate at which employees forget information directly after hearing it.

But today, the cutting edge is just in time learning — a trend that’s here to stay and might be the bridge to that vision many of us have been longing for.

What is microlearning?

Defined simply, microlearning is a corporate training method that delivers knowedge in small, digestible bits of information to employees. As opposed to long, intensive classroom training sessions that occur a few times a year, microlearning focuses on providing information continuously.

It’s already very popular: according to one study, “38 percent of talent development professionals currently use microlearning and another 41 percent plan to start within the next year.”

While microlearning delivers bite-sized information, just in time learning takes it a step further and delivers it when and where it’s needed — at the point of friction where employees are likely to make mistakes. Just in time learning embeds bits of knowledge into business processes so that users can find answers to their questions without interrupting their workflow.

Why Just In Time Learning?

Businesses of all sizes need to innovate if they wish to survive. Ability to change is so important that some have argued that rate of change should be the single most important business metric. However, merely deciding to adopt new technologies or change processes is not enough; these changes must also be communicated across the organization and adopted by employees.

Just in time learning gives businesses a key tool to enable corporate change. For the first time, companies are able to instantly spread word about process changes to all of their employees, in any workflow, giving them access to real-time information when and where they need it.

Melanie Fellay, CEO Spekit

As a learning and development tool, just in time learning also encourages the 70-20-10 optimized learning model or a “learn by doing” mentality by embedding knowledge at every turn. Employees are supported with bite-sized pieces of information as they go about their work. The greatest benefit is that this embedded process reinforcement is a very effective way to boost retention.

Just in time learning in Salesforce
Just in time learning gives knowledge when and where the employee needs it in any application or workflow.

Designing Knowledge and Training for Just In Time Learning

Unlike outdated techniques such as classroom training, just in time learning complements the ways your employees want to learn (and their short attention spans!). Just as you might search Google to quickly find answers for your questions as they arise, just in time learning delivers bite sized pieces of information in real-time.

Some best practices for just in time learning are: embrace different types of learners with rich content, encourage employees to participate in the process, and measure your results.

1. Embrace Different Types of Learners with Rich Content

You can divide your employees into four primary learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing. Each style prefers to receive information in a different way: Visual learners like graphs, charts, and whiteboards. Auditory learners prefer listening to information – perhaps via podcasts – or talking things through. Kinesthetic learners learn through experience, getting hands-on with projects. Finally, reading/writing learners like to read long-form text (like this blog post!) and to write out notes on what they’re learning.

What does this have to do with just in time learning? Long blocks of written content won’t appeal to an auditory learner, just as a podcast won’t help a visual learner. To be effective, then, you should display information in a variety of different ways. Along with a text explanation, embed images and short videos whenever possible.

To format your knowledge base effectively, think about how Google displays its results to a search query. Instead of simply showing a long block of text, Google displays a mix of results: a short text snippet, some related videos, and a handful of relevant images. Not only that, Google also links to other similar search terms for further pursuit.

Using rich media has another benefit: each form of information reinforces the training. Employees who are primarily reading/writing learners can benefit from a visual infographic that concisely sums up the key points.

One study showed that people typically remember only 10% of the information they read three days later. In contrast, they remember up to 65% when the information is both visual and verbal. In the context of corporate training, where knowledge retention is very important, this is a huge difference! Combine visual with written content to increase retention.

Spekit embedded across objects, picklists and field values directly within Salesforce.

2. Allow employees to participate in the process

As companies change from a siloed, top-down structure to a more flexible, equal model, so too should corporate learning. You may have already heard of Employee-Generated Learning, which is a bottom-up learning model that employees manage themselves. This model is gaining popularity because it is flexible and adaptable to many learning needs.

When designing a just-in-time training program, include a quick and simple way for employees to ask questions. Users should be able to request more information about a term they don’t know, ask for clarification on current training, and connect with a subject-matter expert when needed.

Employees should be empowered to participate in their own learning. They should be encouraged to ask questions, identify gaps in their knowledge, and seek solutions. People learn more effectively when they are involved in the process – turning it from passive learning into active learning.

3. Measure results

As with any corporate initiative, good measurement is key to establishing ROI.

Many modern learning management systems (such as Spekit) include built-in measurement tools. Administrators are able to see which pieces of knowledge are being accessed the most, which helps them prioritize which content to improve. They can also see how much time employees are spending learning and referencing the content.

Spekit’s dashboard provides insight into where employees are hitting roadblocks in their workflow.

By tracking the questions that employees are asking most often, leadership can develop new training content that addresses those areas. Over the long term, this strategy can save hundreds of hours of search time as the program’s effectiveness improves.

In addition, administrators can see what percentage of the knowledge is already documented by subject matter experts, giving them a comprehensive view of what knowledge their users have access to.

Make Time for Just In Time Learning

In summary, just in time learning is more effective than microlearning as a corporate training strategy because it provides knowledge both where and when it’s needed. When employees can get answers without interrupting their workflows, they can move through tasks more efficiently. To create an effective program, follow just-in-time learning best practices like using rich content, encouraging employee participation, and measuring your results.

If you’re looking for content to help you jump-start your just in time training program, we’ve created some in a variety of formats that is free to the public. Take a look:

For quick, informational walk-through videos, visit our Youtube Channel or head over to our Video Learning Center.

To download our Free Salesforce Training Manuals for Lightning and Classic, head to our Resources Pages.