Just-in-Time Learning

By Sarah Nord

My family had the great pleasure of hosting an exchange student from Switzerland this past year. I can’t say enough good things about this experience! We are frequent travelers and have seen many far-flung places, but there’s no substitute for “immersion” with someone from a different country and culture. 

Before her arrival, I learned that our exchange student spoke Swiss German, and my wheels immediately began to spin. I took four years of German in college and thought, “surely I’ll be able to practice the old skills with our visitor!” 

Two reasons my thinking here was idiotic:

  • German and Swiss German are not the same language. (D’oh!)
  • Resurrecting my German lessons from 20 years ago is laughable. 

Needless to say, it took about 4 seconds of “speaking German” with my exchange student to realize that her time with us would be in English only. (She did teach us some Swiss-German throughout the year…much of which I have already forgotten. Ugh.)

My lack of skill with the German language was frustrating but not surprising. I took those German classes at a time when I didn’t have much opportunity to practice the language with native speakers. Over the years, my command of German grammar and vocabulary has faded into the cobwebs of my brain—inaccessible to me now. While my college German classes were fantastic, I took them at the wrong time. The knowledge I gained 20 years ago was lost to me when I needed to use it.

How often does this happen to us in the workplace? How often do we attend a conference or training class and come away with all sorts of new ideas and insights, only to let them atrophy for lack of real-world application? 

According to Edutopia.org, “without any reinforcement or connections to prior knowledge, information is quickly forgotten—roughly 56 percent in one hour, 66 percent after a day, and 75 percent after six days.”

Those are pretty dismal stats for folks like me who work in education and training. But let’s focus on that “reinforcement or connections to prior knowledge” part. If we can learn in ways that help us reinforce our skills with hands-on practice and connect with knowledge we already possess, we should be able to improve both comprehension and retention, right?

Here at Onspring, we’ve put this thinking into practice with our web training program. For several years, we’ve offered classroom training that combines expert instruction, live demonstrations and hands-on labs in a 2-day or 4-day course. For clients who are actively working and configuring within the Onspring platform, this is a great learning solution because they can develop a broad set of skills and put them to use right away. But for clients who are configuring Onspring more slowly or sporadically, an on-demand learning model can be more beneficial. After all, it’s best to learn a skill at the point in time when you need that skill. If you learn it today but don’t use it for 6 months, you may not remember much when you need to test your knowledge. (Hence my abysmal failure with speaking German.) 

With Onspring web training, clients can access instruction precisely when they need it, any time of day or night, all around the world. Our video-based tutorials, coupled with written instructions for immediate, real-world practice, give clients a “just-in-time” learning experience that fits their schedules. And if you watch a video but don’t practice what you learn right away, you can always watch it again. Our web training resources are there when you need them.

Many of our clients are combining classroom training and web training through the new Onspring Academy program—an approach that addresses a variety of learning styles. Admin users who want an immersion experience can attend classroom training and then “touch up” their knowledge and learn about new features on the web training site. Users who learn best at their own pace can dive into the web training videos and instructions as often as they like, whenever they like.

We have a mantra here at Onspring of “helping clients do their best work,” and we believe that training is a big part of that. The Onspring platform is powerful, and clients who invest time to learn about platform functionality and develop their configuration skills through practice become self-sufficient very quickly. With a variety of training options for just-in-time learning, we aim to equip our clients for immediate and lasting success.

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