You are in a heated discussion with friends about the meaning and origin of a particular phrase. Someone uses his wireless computer to access the Internet and “googles” the debated phrase. The dispute is resolved in seconds. You attend a conference in a new city and get lost on the way to the convention center. Turning on your GPS system in your rental car, you are then guided by a soft, calming voice with explicit instructions to your destination, including warnings of upcoming turns as well as detours around any recent road construction. This “just-in-time” information is available to us through the advancements in technology. With the constant evolution of new technology as well as the increased speed of information retrieval, we often take for granted the “just-in-time” aspect of this process. Just-in-time training, or preferably just-in-time learning, has altered the training and preparation of workers in industry, and currently has educational implications in all fields. The technological advances have made it possible to match specific knowledge and skills with the worker or learner, literally, when and where they need it. An example from industry is the worker whose line shuts down because of a mechanical problem. Within seconds, she/he is consulting with someone half way around the world who already has all the technical data about the system breakdown on his/her computer. A few seconds later through live video, he/she demonstrates to the worker how to fix the problem.
The expression “just-in-time” (JIT) was used initially in industry related to the application of production-inventory and customer response. The technology and software available improved the ordering process and thus increased productivity and eliminated waste. Using the “just-in-time” application significantly reduced inventory costs for the company, while improving response time for customers.
The concept of “just-in-time” was then applied to training in industry and referred to as just-in-time training or JITT. The expanding training needs of the workplace have made JITT a major part of the human resource development departments of companies. JIT learning was not invented by “workplace educators and performance specialists within the human resource development field, but rather it (was) conceptualized as an evolutionary response to the demands of a knowledge-driven and speed-oriented market place” (Bradenburg & Ellinger, 2003, p 311). Horton (2000) provides guidance in designing Web-based training. The author refers to the exploding demand for training in technical knowledge needed for trained technology workers and how Web-based training is suited to meet this need. “Just-in-time learning systems deliver training to workers when and where they need it. Rather than sitting through hours of traditional classroom training, users can tap into Web-based tutorials, interactive CD-ROMs and other tools to zero in on just the information they need to solve problems, perform specific tasks or quickly update their skills” (Sambataro, 2000, p. 50).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Learning on Demand: Learning on demand is a phrase associated with the concept of just-in-time learning. It is specifically associated with the learner’s role in determining what they want or need to learn at any given time.
Asynchronous: A form of online discussion among students, workers, or instructors. Participants post comments, opinions, reflections, or questions to a type of online discussion board. Participants can read and respond to others’ postings. Participants can access or post at any time.
Synchronous: A form of online discussion among students, workers, or instructors that is scheduled for a specific time. It may be referred to as a “live chat,” where all participants are online at the same time in a virtual chat room.
WBT: Web-based training refers to all training programs provided online that significantly eliminate the need for same time and same place for learning events.
PDA: The PDA or personal digital assistant is a type of handheld computer.
E-Learning: E-learning or electronic learning refers to any online frameworks that bring education or training to an individual who may access this learning from the computer.
Constructivism: Constructivism learning principles focus on the learner and what he or she brings to the educational experience, as well as how the knowledge framework changes as a result of new learning. Constructivist learning principles require the teacher/instructor to focus on the learner, prior knowledge, and facilitation of active learning.