Design Just-in-Time Training: Four Ways to Support Learning in the Moment 

There are a variety of reasons why learners participate in workplace training, ranging from mandatory compliance requirements, upskilling, to career development. While different goals might have different timelines for completion, learners often have time to complete them at their leisure or over an extended period. Just-in-time training is a time-sensitive form of instruction that allows employees to access training that supports their work the moment they need it.

There are many benefits associated with designing just-in-time learning content. Developing materials that will be accessed on learners’ own time when they need can cut down on your organization’s budget by reducing its dependence on lengthier – and potentially more costly –courses. It also increases the productivity of workplace learning by providing a mechanism for learners to access content quickly to complete tasks in real-time. Additionally, just-in-time learning content fosters a culture of continuous learning, allowing employees to acquire new knowledge and skills as they encounter challenges or changes in their roles. This adaptability is particularly valuable in fast-paced and dynamic work environments, like technology companies or retail businesses, enhancing overall workforce performance.

L&D professionals tasked with designing just-in-time learning content is that they never quite know when the information will be needed. Training is activated by the learner when they determine that they need support to complete an immediate task. As instructional designers, our goal is putting learners first by meeting them where they are, when they need it. This becomes challenging when designing content for learning in the moment because it’s difficult to plan for when, where, or why these moments may occur.

Here are four ways that L&D professionals can support learning in the moment throughout the learning design process:

  1. Anticipate Learners’ Needs

L&D professionals can attempt to anticipate when just-in-time training may be needed by working with managers to identify tasks that may warrant just-in-time support. Examples may include but are not limited to: procedural tasks that occur infrequently but require precise execution; tasks that many employees experience challenges with completing; and tasks where there’s typically one possible solution.

  1. Stick with the Necessities

Most employees who seek out just-in-time training will be looking for quick answers to address real-time challenges. Recognizing that there is a sense of urgency often associated with just-in-time training, content creators should stick to the bare necessities as they build a resource.

When designing content, L&D professionals should focus on what learners absolutely need to know. This approach ensures that learners can quickly grasp essential information and apply it immediately in their work, maximizing the effectiveness of just-in-time training.

Just-in-time training is most effective when the content is concise and to the point. This helps the learners identify the resources they need to complete the task. Examples of just-in-time training materials may include job aids that walk learners through procedural tasks, infographics that use screenshots for navigating software applications, micro-learning modules that provide short video walk-throughs for task completion, form examples, and other documentation that relate to the task.

  1. Reduce Cognitive Load to Support Problem-Solving

While reducing cognitive load is a goal for instructional design projects, it is important to be mindful of how cognitive load can be supported during just-in-time training. With an emphasis on supporting a learner’s ability to acquire immediately relevant information, just-in-time content must be focused specifically on task completion. This helps to minimize information overload and prevent learners from feeling overwhelmed with an abundance of information that may not be relevant to the time-sensitive task they are trying to complete.

  1. Design with Accessibility in Mind

L&D professionals need to consider all the ways their learners may access just-in-time training. Designing content that can be accessed in a variety of formats and locations can contribute to the efficiency of learning. Providing learning resources in digital formats allows for content to be accessible from anywhere.

Just-in-time learning provides a convenient path for accessing content that is flexible and adaptable to learners’ needs. It empowers learners to seek the specific resources they need without having to follow a predefined learning schedule. Considering that the majority of just-in-time learning is self-directed, L&D professionals should work to ensure that content is relevant, resourceful, and easy to digest.

In our recent webinar, “Live in 90 Days: Leveraging Just-in-Time Training for L&D Success,” we sat down with Litmos customer to discuss how his nonprofit used just-in-time training to launch their volunteer training program in just 90 days. To watch the conversation, you can view the recording here.