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In today’s fast-paced, hyper-competitive business environment, having the right information and the knowledge of how to use it is essential to success. Companies are under tremendous pressure to respond rapidly to ever-changing market conditions. And the old model of giving periodic training to employees to keep them abreast of recent trends no longer suffices.
A new age requires new ways of delivering employee training and development. The technological advances that have re-shaped the corporate landscape have also transformed the learning environment of its workforces. Laptops, digital pads, and other mobile devices empower people to train and educate themselves from anywhere and at any time. Such devices have replaced the slow and static classroom forum with a medium that is dynamic, flexible, and easily accessible—making the training materials themselves repeatable on demand.
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Just In time Explained
Speed, access, relevance—these are the watchwords of corporate training in the 21st century. Just-in-time learning is the concept that makes these words actionable. Just-in-time learning is organized along the same lines as just-in-time delivery. In the late 80s, companies in the manufacturing and production sectors—under pressure from foreign rivals—were forced to substantially increase efficiency and decrease waste. Their answer was to radically re-organize production and distribution so that goods could be moved from the factory to the market just in time for them to be collected by customers. Pursuing this strategy saved millions in inventory and other costs.
Just-in-time learning works in roughly the same way. The customer—the corporate learner—gets the information and training materials he or she needs just in time to put them to good use. Classrooms and instructors are no longer needed. Training departments and teams are made redundant. All other costs associated with mass training sessions, including the diversion of man-hours towards such activity, are eliminated.
Just-in-time learning is a sound solution to the increasing need for employees with multiple skill sets that range across a variety of disciplines. The uncertainty and unpredictability of the market has made it impossible for corporations to maintain workforces in which individuals are expected to specialize in one or two things. In the future, people will be hired to fill an existing need, but will then be expected to learn other skills and competencies quickly in anticipation of meeting future needs. Just-in-time learning gives employees the means to absorb the units of information they need to perform specific tasks and solve particular problems. Using self-guided tutorials, each employee will be able to learn at his or her own pace.
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Higher Training Effectiveness
Money for training is scarce in most companies. The few businesses that still have training departments keep them on a shoestring budget. When times are tough, such departments and activities are the first to be cut back or suspended altogether. Just-in-time learning is a great way to maximize the effectiveness of workforce training while getting a solid return-on-investment.
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Better Knowledge Retention
Knowledge is of little value if it is not retained. A main drawback of traditional training is that it delivers information in bulk—weeks, sometimes months, before the information will be used. An end-of-course exam measures the ability of the learner to take exams; it has no bearing on the employee’s capacity to retain and apply the relevant material when the need arises. People learn in different ways. Most classroom instruction deals in abstractions and hypotheticals. It presents ideas, concepts, and methods out of context, which leads to the material being forgotten before it is applied.
Just-in-time provides immediate reinforcement of newly acquired knowledge. It relies on active learning methods. Trainees learn through practice—by doing. The web-based format makes it easier to load well-designed and highly intelligent programs.
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Flexibility in Material Delivery
The virtual medium through which it is delivered makes just-in-time perfect for today’s mobile workforce. Fewer and fewer jobs are of a nature to keep employees in the same office all the time. High-end service professionals in particular spend most of their time traveling from one client site to another.
Just-in-time learning allows employees to watch and read lessons and engage in interactive sessions on demand. It conforms to adult learners’ needs by giving them tools to do integrated and collaborative training—which might involve the use of social media and instant messaging. Employees can also take in motivational videos that focus on specific skills and work through lessons that incorporate institutional memory, current work experiences, and other such materials.
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Higher Staff Engagement
Keeping employees active and their minds engaged is essential to turning them into stakeholders. Acquiring skills that they can put to immediate use will make them more interested in what they do. It maximizes their engagement with their job and the company by giving them the chance to demonstrate newly acquired skills.
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Adaptability and Growth
Just-in-time learning empowers your employees to manage continual and constructive change. Its ultimate effect is the development and retention of competitive advantage through a highly adaptable and growth-oriented workforce. Using just-in-time learning systems is a great way to reduce employee turnover and increase staff loyalty and value.
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About the Author: Joe Peters is a freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast from Baltimore. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about latest apps and gadgets or binge-watching his favorite TV shows. Feel free to reach him on Twitter