How do we know it’s time for ‘Just In Time’ training?

Posted on Jul 19, 2011

The YouTube vid below provides an example as to information being provided at point of ‘assumed need’ to a specified individual. For those of you who plan to dismiss the idea off the back of it being ‘just’ a sci-fi film, remember the virtual info screen that John Anderton (Tom Cruise)operates with his hands…….?

… Microsoft Kinect anybody

And now onto the context of this blog post. Sure, for many people it is fairly obvious when a moment of need has arisen because….. well…… they are in need!

They are at Point A, needing to get to Point C and don’t have the knowledge or skill to get them there. They realise this and seek some support to assist them – simples!

But what about when you don’t realise you are at Point A, or that you need to get to Point C, or perhaps more worryingly (and dangerously) ‘think’ you have the knowledge or skills to assist you, when in actual fact the knowledge or skills are wrong or outdated…… disaster looms….

So my question is:

What ‘triggers’ (other than the individual self-detecting a ‘just in time‘ need) are there/or can we create?

Here’s an example of what I mean:

  1. Worker X has to pass from a potentially contaminated area to a clean area.
  2. In order to do this they have to pass through a room with a monitoring device to detect any contamination.
  3. On this particular occasion Worker X receives notification that their wife has gone into labour and rushes from the potentially contaminated area straight past the monitoring machine into the clean area…..!
  4. Now imagine if there was a proximity detector in that room that detected any movement from the potentially contaminated area and immediately played a short 30 second movie on a screen above the exit door reminding Worker X (and anybody else) of the need for and process of monitoring.

Just in time performance support despite the worker forgetting/realising the need/assuming they had the skill.

Do you have any auto-triggers in your workplace to deliver performance support at the time of need?

If so, what do you use?

How do you use it?

Can you think of any auto triggers, beyond proximity detection?

Get those thinking caps on folks and let us all know via the comments box below, come on you lurkers….. you know you want to….


  1. In terms of computer based work I’m thinking of a Personal Electronic Learning Coach (PELC)something that sits off/on screen (a bit like that microsoft help dog) that monitors what you are doing and appears at the point in time when you hesitate or when it notices that you are doing something new or something that is relatively new.

    It acts as a mentor/coach and searches for relevant information and offers that information at the right point in time.

    Its personal to you and learns what you do and how you work so its fairly intuitive and then provides the necessary support at that point in time.

    In some ways we are not too far away from this with some of the aggregation tools that are already available – the difference here is that it reacts to what i am doing in realtime and thereby provides that Just in Time support that I need.

    Not sure if this is a new idea for me or whether I’ve dredged it up from some SCi Fi book or film thats stored somewhere in my memory of course if I had my PELC it could find out for me!

    Craig – thanks for the inspiration never knew that was in me somewhere!

  2. I think the trigger is half the battle – the other half is having chunks of content that are fundamentally approachable for learners and specifically address the need expressed by the trigger. This is commonly discussed in the context of mobile learning but is relevant to how learners commonly actually learn on the job – in small chunks, as needed, in response to a need.

  3. @stevebatchelder Thanks for the response stevebatchelder I must admit that when you started talking about a resource that monitored what you were doing and offered assistance I thought…… “that bloody paperclip”!!!!!!!!

    But when you mentioned that it would learn how you work and operate and then adapt accordingly, that really struck a chord with me, as you are quite when you say that semantic technology is already starting to become apparent.

    I wonder if timbuckteeth could offer any comment here as I know he can speak with greater insight than I into the semantic web (and if nothing else, I’m sure he’ll like the acronym you have chosen to give your new concept)! 😉

    Great starter for 10 and I hope you’ll keep popping back to this blog to see what other ideas emerge


  4. @CraigTaylor74 @stevebatchelder stevebatchelder timbuckteeth There is evidence that the semantic web (some would call it Web 3.0) is beginning to emerge in mainstream use. Already we see recommender systems on Amazon, Ebay etc. My own conception of the semantic web becomes the Smart eXtended Web, or Web x.0 which takes the social richness of Web 2.0 and the information richness of Web 3.0 and merges them into a metaweb, which relies on Smart devices, mobile pervasive and 3D non-touch gesture interfaces, and creates an entirely new immersive environment within which we can learn, work and play. Hope this helps?

  5. It’s a tricky one. Where we can foresee likely issues it’s better to build something into the system to fix them. In your example it’d be a route from contaminated to clean that cannot bypass the monitor & a door on a time latch to prevent haste.
    Otherwise it can be helped by a healthy learning culture, one of our units has long had a policy that staff use a centrally authored reference guide when completing online reports regardless of if they ‘know’ the procedure.

  6. Following some Twitter chat about this and from what timbuckteeth describes below we are in reality not to far from devices that will be able to assist in ways similar to those I describe above.

    If Augmented Reality is included and the PELC is available on a smartphone then it evolves from a learning tool for training into a device with much wider applications.

    Looking at some of the uses for QR codes added to your mindmap last week would work really well on this type of device and could be used to download data about a building and the people in that building as you entered it. Or at a conference you would receive a download of information about other people attending the conference as you arrived and if you decided that you wantedto meet a particular person the PELC’s would arrange it on your behalf.


  7. Hi Craig,

    interesting discussion. Other triggers could include

    – monitoring product shipments to send training info on new products to retail stores just before the products arrive

    – business intelligence system triggers delivery of learning based on some metric, e.g. did not meet sales target, did not handle target number of calls. these need not be all negative though, e.g. offer more advanced training materials to people who consistently meet their target.

    – keywords in online calendar entries e.g. ‘appraisal’ would deliver best prtactice material to manager beforehand.

  8. @stevebatchelder Hi stevebatchelder , some excellent ideas here. Love the one about the device recognising who else from your network is in the area and prompting accordingly. Why don’t you add it to the mindmap?

  9. Doh – never thought to add it there as well!!!!@CraigTaylor74

  10. @stevebatchelder “Woods for the trees”? 😉

  11. I’m a year late to this discussion prompted by Craig’s tweet earlier today. Actually I don’t think there is such as thing as just-in-time learning. Just-in-time information or just-in-time knowledge maybe but learning is something deeper and more substantial. KM also struggled with the just-in-time need and never delivered on it’s promise of an instant online solution, but the technology is so much better today and I believe that the semantic web combined with mobile devices will really help us deliver information/knowledge at the point of need. Whether that constitutes real learning is another matter.

    •  @designedlearnin Hi designedlearnin Thanks for commenting John. I must admit that my thinking has changed since I wrote this blog post and now I’m not so concerned over the ‘learning’ per se as opposed to the contextual support that is provided.

      • @CraigTaylor74 @designedlearnin Contextual support always brings back the memories of the Microsoft paper clip which was universally hated not because it worked the way it did but because it so often came up with dumb suggestions. At the time I was an online help developer and the challenge of predicting the various ‘contexts’ that users might be engaged was extremely difficult. Online help hasn’t moved any further forward since and so it has largely been overtaken by help from users on forums such as those provided by Articulate for it’s e-learning software. But good though these ‘social learning’ platforms are they often still fail to correctly identify a particular user’s context.


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