How Can Self-Paced Training Meet Modern Learners’ Needs?

Today’s auto industry is lending its innovative processes to the training business.

In fact, the idea for Just in Time Learning (JITL) came directly from Toyota’s manufacturing mindset, where efforts are made to reduce inventory costs and waste by manufacturing products only when they are needed. Rather than “in case” you need them.

And JITL actually evolved from Just in Time Teaching (JITT), which is a teaching and learning strategy designed to promote the use of class time for active learning. Developed by Gregor Novak, professor of physics as Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), together with his colleagues, Andrew Gavrin, assistant professor of physics at IUPUI, and Evelyn Patterson, associate professor of physics at the United States Air Force Academy, JITT maintains that instructors need to create an interactive classroom environment that emphasizes active learning and cooperative problem solving.

For Toyota, “just in time” means making “only what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed.” For example, when the company must produce a large number of automobiles, made up of more than 30,000 parts, it is vital to meticulously follow the production plan. This avoids waste and inconsistencies—which improves productivity and profitability.

JITL in the classroom works in the same way. It’s “on-demand training” that helps students gain new skills or knowledge only when they need them. After all, employees in different roles don’t need to learn the exact same skills at the same exact time.

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Today’s employees constantly face new issues that need to be solved quickly. To solve them, employees must have access to relevant training when they need it.

That’s where JITL comes in.

According to James L. Moseley, associate professor of instructional technology at Wayne State University College of Education, and author of Training Older Workers and Learners, JITL is the “intersection of workplace training and performance.”

He writes: “JITL places substantial reliance on the employee to secure the most relevant, recent and useful information with appropriate resources for achieving a particular purpose. It suggests that the learner is self-directed and self-motivated—and that an expert guide or coach, who can influence with integrity, is present to answer questions, to help establish patterns and priorities, and to serve as a ‘sounding board’ for the employee’s need-to-know.”

With JITL, training translates into learning that happens constantly and part of an employee’s day to day work. For example, JITL takes place in everyday life when we use Google to search for the definition of a word, a famous line from a movie or the outcome of a sporting event.

According to Eric P. Bloom, president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, most knowledge gained within a training class is not retained because the information learned is not immediately reinforced in the workplace.

JITL tackles this problem by providing training to employees just before they need to use the skills and knowledge on the job. Bloom maintains there are numerous advantages to providing JITL, such as enhancing knowledge retention, improving employee productivity, maximizing training budgets and motivating/engaging employees. Let’s take a look:


Enhances knowledge retention

Because it is common for people to learn more by actually doing, immediately using the learned material enhances knowledge retention. And organizations that use virtual training labs to replicate realistic situations find that these labs teach students the hands-on skills they need when they are back behind their desks. As a result, virtual training labs should be a formal part of the learning process.

Learn more about ReadyTech’s virtual training labs.


Improves employee productivity

JITL improves accuracy and provides easy access to needed skills and knowledge. This, in turn, maximizes an employee’s productivity and effectiveness within an organization.


Maximizes training budgets

For employees who are able to efficiently learn and retain the material, this translates into maximizing an organization’s training dollars and its return on investment.


Motivates and engages employees

When employees understand they must learn to keep their jobs or earn a promotion, training becomes an important motivator. And this creates more engaged employees who become eager to learn.

In today’s fast-paced workplace, JITL allows employees to stay on the cutting edge. It’s all about having immediate access to knowledge exactly when you need it in order to meet the needs of a knowledge-driven business world.

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