From our training content partner Megan Torrance

Just-in-time training provides learners with the knowledge they need to complete a task shortly before that task is required of them. It’s effective for several reasons. Learners are highly motivated to understand the content because they know it will help them in the near future. They have little time to forget their newly-acquired knowledge before they apply it. Learners can typically access the training resources easily and can select relevant topics as needed rather than in a prescribed order.

With such advantages to offer, it’s not surprising that just-in-time training has become very popular with organizations. However, ensuring that learners have all the resources they need—when they need them—can be a tall order for human resources and training departments. Off-the-shelf courseware can provide learners with just-in-time training while relieving already overextended trainers and content managers of yet another task—the key is finding the right courseware. In a recent webinar, I was asked what features to look for to get effective just-in-time training.

One fundamental to keep in mind is that this kind of training is very focused for a very specific task. This is not the place to give the full-blown history of the topic or to present the many divergent views on exactly the best way to accomplish the task. If the learner is struggling to lead meetings, he needs three or four facilitation tips and a risk-free space to practice his skills. He doesn’t need the background on parliamentary procedure or a true-false quiz on Robert’s Rules of Order.

Action-focused training packages make it much more likely that trainers and learners alike will find resources for just-in-time training. “Action-focused” means that the training is designed to prepare the learner to complete actions. Skip over courses with learning objectives that include words like know, understand, or recognize. Instead, look for objectives that have action words: manage, sell, solve. Which learning objective will help our struggling meeting leader more: “Learner will recall 4 basic types of motions” or “Learner will prioritize members’ comments to determine further discussion”?

Lastly, courseware that is effective for just-in-time training should be modular, or “bite-size.” In other words, look for training where each component can stand alone and offer value to the learner. Taken together the courses provide the whole meal, but they should also be easily consumed in bites here and there. For example, our learner might take the introduction to a course on effective communication, the entire course on leading effective meetings, and the downloadable PDF on delegating tasks. Maybe later, he’ll want to take the whole course on effective communication or maybe he’ll want a refresher of just one part of the effective meetings course.

Just-in-time training is effective for learners but potentially onerous for trainers. The right off-the-shelf courseware can solve the problems for all.

Watch the webinar replay of 6 Ways to Make Off-the-Shelf Courseware Your Own, for more great tips!