Whitepaper

Just-In-Time Learning (JITL) for Office 365

Executive Summary

Just-in-Time Learning™ (JITL) addresses the training needs of the modern technology-focused workplace and the stringent, on-demand information requirements of a rising millennial workforce. Convenience, accessibility, relevance, efficiency, and engagement: JITL™ embodies the hallmarks of a productive learning experience. This whitepaper describes how JITL can be applied to help drive the adoption of Office 365 and Dynamics 365 more successfully than the discredited e-Learning methods that force users into drawn out curriculums of long training modules where their knowledge retention is minimized.

As this whitepaper describes, JITL enables the fastest and most flexible route to help information workers absorb knowledge and gain confidence in using new technology to improve their productivity. The whitepaper is divided into the following four sections, which explain the ethos and business value of JITL:

  • Learning Culture Focused on Productivity
  • Why e-Learning Courses Don’t Work
  • Advantages of JITL
  • What’s Needed to Deploy JITL

Benefits of Just-in-Time Learning

Customers that embrace new JITL methods over the obsolete e-Learning models of the past will reap the benefits reported by other organizations that have already made the transition. The top four business value outcomes from JITL are:

1. Incredibly efficient learning processes for your information workers, when and where they need it

2. Optimized knowledge retention for your information workers

3. Reduced time away from job activities for your information workers

4. Maximized returns on investment (ROI) for your training budget

Learning Culture Focused on Productivity

JITL is an “evolutionary response to the demands of a knowledge-driven and speed-oriented market place. As soon as I have the little piece of information I need, I’m out of here and back to my job task at hand,” explains Heinrich Koenen, Vice President and Dean of The Masie Center, a learning and technology think tank in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

In a rapidly changing business environment where new technology is deployed regularly, staying on top of training can be a mountainous task. Rather than having employees take time away from work to sit through traditional classroom courses or sit in front of their computers for structured e-Learning paths from 1 to 2 hours (or even longer), many companies are using technology-based, search-enabled, self-help tutorials and short, taskbased videos. These allow users to focus on nuggets of information as needed to perform specific tasks and solve problems as they crop up. This model is at the heart of JITL. It focuses on the most efficient, least obtrusive ways to impart knowledge, while increasing productivity at the same time.

Introduction to Just-in-Time Learning

JITL is having quick-search access to knowledge just when you need it. It is not having to wait until you can get ahold of a subject matter expert, or having to scroll through a set of long, training curriculum videos that you watched weeks ago. JITL solutions deliver short, focused segments of training to information workers when they need it. And in a perfect scenario, the training tips and videos are integrated directly inside the application that your information workers are using. Rather than sitting through hours of online e-Learning modules, users can tap into pre-recorded “how-to” videos, task-based tutorials and other learning tools to zero in on just the information they need to solve problems, perform specific tasks, or quickly update their skills. Immediately after learning, users apply their knowledge to the task immediately, thereby reinforcing the learning and improving retention.

The “Just-in-Time” concept has its origins in the world of manufacturing. In the manufacturing industry, efforts are made to reduce inventory costs and wastage by synchronizing the manufacturing and distribution of products with when they are needed. Similarly, in the modern workplace, the perfect time for learning how to use software is when information workers need help to perform a task or keep up with changes in technology. A further complication is that software training is essentially perishable due to the speed of change in the cloud-based applications in use today, such as the communication and collaboration platforms found in Office 365. The JITL approach allows information workers to update their skills continually, whereas the knowledge gained from classroom training and traditional eLearning can quickly become obsolete. As reported by a recent CEB Research article, 57% of employees expect learning to be more “just in time,” or as-needed, than it was three years ago.

Powered by Quick-Access Search

There is almost nothing that you can’t look up on search engines and find the answers to these days. Information workers have become accustomed to having on-demand access to knowledge. They don’t want to wait for IT organizations to roll out the rigid training paths from online e-Learning courses. They want to be able to find lessons, tips, and task-based videos just when they need it. They don’t want to be taken away from their desks to attend a training session; they want to synchronize their learning into their busy schedules and find the information quickly when they are challenged with a specific task.

The success of any JITL solution requires fully discoverable content. The metadata and audio indexing for JITL drives discoverability and makes incredibly efficient learning a reality for information workers. Including powerful search features within the training content itself, helps employees find what they need quickly. This improves accessibility to knowledge.

Why e-Learning Courses Do Not Work

e-Learning has been seen as an alternative to classroom training, on the basis that it is less expensive overall. The challenge with e-Learning, however, is that it tends to be too conceptual and is not helpful when end users are stuck trying to complete a specific task. Additionally, e-Learning subscriptions may expire, meaning that end users must then rely on the memory of what they have studied.

The main goal of any software training is to provide information to users in such a way that they will retain the knowledge and apply it in their day-to-day work activities. The key words in that statement are “retain the knowledge”, or remember, which is how the effectiveness of training is measured. We all know and understand that people forget—it’s a part of life.

But how much can information workers retain from a typical 1 to 2 hour set of e-Learning modules? Without a simple way to go back and easily review the different segments of the training modules, most users will retain less than 10% of what they learned after just one week. Everyone has at some point or another experienced the frustration that comes with forgetting—whether it be a minor slip, like how to embed a link within a document, or something more significant, like how to process an invoice.

The Forgetting Curve

In 1885, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus developed a formula for the decline in memory retention and then conducted a study to prove his theory. He discovered that forgetting is exponential, with a shockingly rapid rate of memory decline occurring just minutes after training instruction

Ebbinghaus’ formula was based on two fundamental concepts:

1. The strength of memory, which is unique to each individual; and

2. The amount of time that has passed since learning.

Despite a few flaws in his theory—it doesn’t reflect everyone because some people have extremely good memories while others are constantly forgetting things—Ebbinghaus was able to provide clarity to the somewhat foggy area of knowledge retention rates. His findings have been widely accepted as the general theory for how we learn and retain information.

In fact, Ebbinghaus found that after two days, only 25% of information is retained. There have been other studies that found the forgetting curve is even steeper than that, with 75% of information lost after just 24 hours and 90% gone after one week. When you’re talking about knowledge transfer through e-Learning solutions within your organization, that translates to an incredible amount of wasted time, resources, and money.

From Learning, to Doing, to Knowing

In order to overcome the forgetting curve, organizations can use JITL solutions to provide targeted access to upto-date knowledge and task-based training at the moment of need. This model reinforces knowledge retention by enabling information workers to apply their newfound skills so that they accomplish their task at hand. JITL is a cost-effective and practical approach to end user learning where the training is available on-demand. Unlike eLearning solutions, JITL is integrated into the application platform, making it easy to find, and very intuitive for end-users to access in-context while they work. While it’s not necessary for the content to be digital, most end users want practical, short “How-To” videos that show them how to complete the tasks they need to perform.

The solution isn’t to improve the ability to retain information; it’s to improve the ability to retrieve the information you need when you need it, and then apply it

Advantages of Just-in-Time Learning

JITL is particularly useful in the cloud-based technology world. The model lends itself to the ongoing learning cycles that are normal for technology advancements, especially when it comes to communication and collaboration software platforms such as Office 365 and Dynamics 365. Microsoft has consistently deployed new updates and functionality on a regular basis to help drive productivity gains for information workers, but this can be a challenge for users who struggle to keep up. However, because JITL consists of very short task-based atomic content, new and updated training can be quickly developed and deployed. Furthermore, information workers are more comfortable with online delivery methods.

JITL is proven to be effective in organizations looking to drive broader adoption of enterprise software. Below are the JITL benefits in greater detail, which help explain why it is considered a game-changer compared to other learning approaches:

It Enhances Worker Productivity

One of the principle goals of the JITL methodology is to provide real-time performance support. The aim is to help an employee perform their job optimally by providing access to tips, tricks, solutions, and “how-to” videos just when they need them, which is in the workplace and right at the point of action.

  • It improves accuracy. When workers can cross-check facts, go over a checklist, or review tips, they can perform their tasks more accurately.
  • It provides learning in-context. There is no need for users to leave the application. They can get the help they need from within the application.
  • It provides easy access to up-to-date and comprehensive information. There is no longer any need to attend classroom-training sessions or wait for subject matter experts. Nor does the company need to spend time and money overhauling or replacing existing long e-Learning courses.
  • It facilitates learning on the go. Because just-in-time learning facilitates delivering knowledge in bite-sized chunks, companies can keep their mobile employees trained and productive.

It Speeds Up the Learning Process

People learn better and faster when they NEED to learn. That’s why we tend to learn better on the job. It is not only because we apply the learning almost right away, it’s also knowing that we NEED to learn in order to complete a task. That adds a powerful motivational thrust that speeds up the learning process.

JITL provides practical training as and when users need to complete a specific task. The on-demand content is easy to find, because it is integrated into the software platform and is contextual and discoverable. Therefore, it speedily provides answers to a particular “how-to” query and it allows users to quickly go back to their task at hand.

Corporate learners are busy people. You can make them click start on a two-hour-long e-Learning course, but it is hard to make them to sit through the whole course if they can’t visualize the relevance of the material. JITL enhances relevance and relatability by providing easy to access content that is relevant to their task at hand. When learners identify a knowledge gap, they are compelled to look for solutions. When IT groups provide JITL, their users have the solutions that help them fulfill their goals. They are more motivated to learn, and they apply that knowledge immediately, which helps their retention and overall understanding.

It Improves Learner Access to Knowledge

How did you search for information about 15-20 years ago? People probably poured over countless books in the school or public library. Maybe you asked your teacher and then sat through an hour-long lecture to learn the gist of what you wanted to know. Learning was time-consuming then. Now though, new training content can be quickly released to end users through innovative delivery methods (such as Cloud-based content delivery), without them even needing to know where to start.

It Creates Proactive Learners

Most information workers are reticent to take time off from their regular job activities in order to attend any type of training, even if it is an online e-Learning module they can watch at their desk. If you want to grab their attention and keep them hooked on training, you need to give them access to short, just-in-time information.

This will help you create more proactive employees who can adopt new technology, because:

  • Employees identify a gap in knowledge and are eager to learn.
  • JITL embodies relevance. Learners learn exactly what they need to address specific knowledge gaps and apply it right away.
  • Bite-sized and focused learning modules instill confidence in learners; they are more motivated when they know that they are NOT staring at an hour-long course and a quiz at the end to test their memory.
  • Adult learners like to be in charge of their lives. Learning at the moment of need gives them this feeling of being in control.

It Optimizes Knowledge Retention

Do you remember the dates from history you learned in middle school? Not likely, unless you have had reasons to go over them in recent times. A lag between learning and application causes a loss of knowledge and skill. It is natural. Pieces of information tend to get buried under layers of new memory that we form every day. Connections tend to get blurred both from a lack of application and with all the new connections we learn every day. On the other hand, immediate and/or continuous reinforcement transfers learning from the short- to the longterm memory.

Immediate reinforcement of a newly learned skill helps the learner move the acquired knowledge from short term memory to long term memory. Many people learn by doing, rather than just by hearing. Therefore, immediate use of the learned material helps reinforce the learning process. More critical than what you do before learning is what you do afterward. This post-learning stage is known as the “sustain” phase where ideally, cascading levels of integrated performance-support solutions are provided to employees just when they need to apply the knowledge. That is why JITL improves knowledge retention.

It Maximizes the Use of your Training Budget

Every company and department, no matter how large, has a finite amount of time and money that it can spend training its people. Therefore, finding ways to maximize the effectiveness of your staff’s training helps maximize the returns on investment of this time and money. According to the Nucleus 2012 IT Spending Survey, “For new software applications, classroom-based training should be limited and supplemented by in-application training and training guides.” JITL is exactly what it sounds like; it’s providing training to your staff just when they are required to use it on the job.

Cost savings is one factor fueling this growth. Cushing Anderson, an IDC analyst, says one day of classroom training typically costs $500 to $1,200 in total, while one day of e- learning runs from $100 to $500. JITL further reduces that cost to just pennies.

There are also big savings in increased productivity and efficiency. JITL cuts time by letting users grab only the chunks of information they need from the convenience of their desks. Companies save travel and education costs. And workers like the JITL approach because they can train at their own pace, wherever and whenever they like. JITL also allow users to review their past training segments, and to re-watch them as and when needed.

What’s Needed to Deploy Just-in-Time Learning

As this white paper has shown, the advancement in technology has helped make JITL a realistic solution for organizations that want to provide a flexible, efficient and convenient methodology for training users. Short, focused training materials can now be accessed anytime by employees when they are challenged with a task.

The era of sitting in front of a desktop or laptop to take an hour-long e-Learning course is long gone – nobody even watches a 10-minute video anymore! The ability to search for relevant, specific “how-to” instructional videos has made learning quickly at your desk, or learning-on-the-go, a realistic model. Through the help of today’s technology, learning has definitely embraced the on-demand service culture. However, JITL doesn’t automatically apply to any business. There are particular organizations that will be a perfect fit for it. It’s matching the right culture, with the proper tools, and the right type of learners that will determine the success of any JITL approach. Here are four key elements needed to successfully provide JITL.

The Use of Responsive Technology

Responsive technology is the key to successfully employing JITL methods. Since this approach puts flexibility as its number one driver, the technology to deliver it must be adaptable too.

The intended audience needs these courses and information in an easy to find interface. And since this is the case, technology – like the company’s learning management solutions and content – has to be fully-indexed, easy to find, and accessible on multiple devices and platforms such as computers, tablets, and mobile smart phones.

Short, yet Highly Relevant Content

The intended audience is always the biggest consideration in terms of designing any content. The same goes for JITL content. Due to the nature of their work, target learners have limited time in their busy schedules and want specific nuggets of information to help them accomplish their task at hand.

This, therefore, means that the usual long eLearning module just won’t be the best way of delivering training. Content for JITL methods should be short, yet highly relevant – typically between one and three minutes in length.

Content Focused on Work-Related Tasks and Competencies

To be pertinent in such a limited amount of time, the best delivery method has proven to be “how-to” video instructions that are task-based and provide a walk-through of accomplishing that specific set of steps.

The best way to address this is to focus solely on “how-to” modules that address actual work-related tasks or common competency gaps. Content that address these issues attribute effectiveness to two points: careful analysis and sound data gathering methodologies.

Although content creation might be the least demanding task in creating JITL content, the bulk of the work rests on data gathering and analysis. Employee feedback surveys, focus group discussion, and on-the-job observations are excellent sources of data.

Get both data and analysis right and you can produce very effective JITL content utilizing this approach.

Organize and Index Training Content Efficiently

The biggest demand of employees in this type of training approach is that content must be categorized and organized in such a manner that searching for them is easy. Having a powerful learning delivery system that can quickly and efficiently search and display results is also a big plus.

Categorizing content help learners find whatever they need with the least possible amount of time and effort. Thus, no opportunity is missed and the integrity of learning ‘just in time’ is upheld.

Conclusion and Recommendations

End user adoption of enterprise software should be a high priority for any IT organization. It is important for IT departments to move beyond development and deployment and to focus on ROI by increasing end user adoption. There are a number of options for driving awareness and education to end users but not all of them are effective or cost-effective. When thinking of end user education, you should evaluate JITL solutions as an effective method that delivers affordable and practical training for end users while they work.

CoreView provides a specific module for JITL and adoption within its unified management solution for Office 365. CoreView JITL helps end users get the most out of Office 365 by delivering on-demand video training and help. With videos integrated into the Office 365 experience (and being fully searchable), training content is easily discoverable. Along with our 2,000+ videos that come out-of-the-box, you can easily add your own training and customize the user experience with very simple steps.

Key Benefits of CoreView Training and Adoption

An always up-to-date, and ever-growing set of Office 365 training videos. Your users can browse or search through an ever-growing library of How-To videos integrated right within Office 365. As we add new videos, they become available to you automatically.

Seamless single sign on. Your users access the training seamlessly from within Office 365, so there is no administrative burden on your HR, IT, or Administrative staff.

An affordable learning solution. We provide practical training for an affordable price. You don’t have to send your users to expensive and theoretical classroom-based training. They can be productive right away.

A customizable and flexible platform for delivering custom training. You can easily add your own custom training or link to any digital content (such as videos, documents, presentations, and so on). You can also customize the user interface and navigation. Furthermore, with just a few clicks you can target any training to your users the way you want.

Usage insight. You can quickly see which training is popular and what users are viewing through easy-to-use reporting and analytics.

Targeted learning. You can create learning campaigns and deliver them to your users via social media, email, or any other way you normally communicate with your employees.

These differences make CoreView’s training and adoption solution the best JITL option for Office 365.