Just-in-Time Education

Elearning_video_toolI recently watched an Interview with Brian Clark in which he mentioned the idea of “Just-in-Time Education”.  This is the idea of learning a skill when work or life calls for it, and this is possible because of the Internet. This concept is a revelation to me.  It pretty much sums up everything I have been thinking about education and how it will have to cope with our ever-changing digital environment.

Traditional education never really worked for me.  I felt like I was slowly dying in both grade school and college.  The only time I really enjoyed myself was when I was arguing with the teacher or other students.  For me, school was never interactive enough and also never applied to anything real in my life.

Today, I am always consuming educational content.  I fill most of my down time with educational books (here are some of my favorites), podcasts, blog posts, and webinars.  Also, I am able to consume content by people who actually have experience doing the things they are conveying information about.  For instance, I would never read a book written by an academic on the theory of retail. I will only read a book written by someone who has actually run a retail operation.  I get to curate my own education.

It makes sense that education should be provided by those that are experienced in the areas they are teaching.  It never made sense that I should be listening to these academics many of which have never actually done anything real in their entire lives.  They have spent all their formative years being isolated and are devoid of any real world feedback that shows them whether their ideas or beliefs are congruent with reality.

Further, my ability to retain information is directly related to whether I actually take action and have real life experience doing the things that I have learned.  This is the beauty of the new paradigm of education.   It is the only type of education that makes sense in my mind.

These days’ educational media is a great way to promote your business because marketing is shifting towards the creation of media. This means there is an increasing number of free materials available.  Further, there is an ever increasing number of mediums, so depending on the type of learning that best suites you there are options available. It is certainly no longer a one size fits all solution to education.

We all have the freedom to craft our own curriculum on an as needed basis now that we have access to information for little to no cost in the comfort of our own home (or really wherever we have an internet connection). This curriculum can also be uniquely crafted for our personal learning styles, allowing us all to learn as we need it and when we need it for our own unique ends.

There is another important reason why “just-in-time education” is so important today.  The world changes incredibly fast. Education is a process and is something that we should be doing in parallel with action in pursuing our ends.  We risk falling behind by stopping and getting a degree.  Degree programs simply change too slowly, they are reactive, not adaptive.  Further, most are not interactive or if they are most interaction is simulated.

Education works best when we get constant feedback by actually using what we learn.  This feedback allows us to better understand what we know and what we don’t know.  Like product design, the future of education should be an iterative process.

All in all, everyone needs to take ownership of his or her own personal education.  It cannot be put in the hands of someone else to know what is best for you.  Only you know what drives your passion and what path is best for you.  The tools are available for anyone to guide their own educational program it is just a matter of committing to it for the rest of your life.


  1. Just in time learning is essential these days – that is what students are doing! It helps guide learning and makes it easier to retain the material. I’m all for it!

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