Sunday, February 18, 2018

Just in Case vs Just in Time Learning in K12

When I first starting working in training and organizational development, I was introduced to the term JIT. I quickly learned that JIT stood for just in-time learning; this style of learning was unfamiliar to me after attending traditional schools and colleges. It was the early 2000's and we had just adopted a Learning Management System (LMS) and had been given the
Young military member engaging in JIT Learning
task of developing a library of resources for lab staff and young military members and coupling that with authentic tasks in
OTJ or on-the-job learning. The results of these shifts were quite successful keeping lab employees and military students engaged, meeting required job competencies sooner and earning college credits towards graduate degrees. This military organization demonstrated the importance of a systems approach when incorporating JIT learning into its programs and not being stuck to a broken model of learning. It was a significant effort that required change management, leadership support and appropriate resources to be successful. 
Engaging learning through a weekly reality
iPod show to teach JIT skills to store associates.
Fast-forward to working in learning and development for a large global retailer with a very young employee base and having to help them learn about problem solving, resilience and basic time management. It struck me that the generation graduating college, being hired at our company, were typically victims of just in case classrooms. The company spent millions of dollars every year trying to help its young associates build what we now call "future-ready" skills and mindsets using blended learning and small five minute or less videos coupled with classroom training. In Reinventing Training for the Global Information Age, Wind and Reibstein (2000) lash out at the traditional educational model and simultaneously propose a new model for education. “Knowledge is the new source of competitive advantage. Companies (and schools) need radically new knowledge to succeed in an environment in which whole industries are created and destroyed or unalterably transformed by relentless technology, competitive shifts and changing demographics.”

Although this quote is almost twenty years old, many 
K12 school systems still focus on students memorizing facts and low-level content instead of helping students get good at learning content and mastering concepts as a means to solving problems and answering challenging questions. Some may argue that policy or lack of resources don't allow for these necessary shifts in a scalable way. Yet several models have emerged over the last twenty years such as Big Picture Learning Schools, High Tech High and some traditional district  schools across the country that have shifted some or most of the learning to just in-time style learning.   

So the questions remains, how might make school feel more just in time vs just in case so that students are ready for the careers of the future

Dintersmith and Wagner (2015) offer these core pedagogical approaches and principles that align with the just in time style of learning:
  1. attack meaningful, engaging challenges
  2. have open access to resources
  3. struggle, often for days, and learn how to recover from failure
  4. form their own points of view
  5. engage in frequent debate
  6. learn to ask good questions
  7. collaborate 
  8. display accomplishments publicly
  9. work hard because they are intrinsically motivated
While it may seem daunting to take on all nine of the suggested approaches that Dintersmith and Wagner pose, having a bias for action and starting to design the school of the future (at all levels from policy down to classrooms) needs to happen now. 

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