Where next? Despite all the excellent work on chunking and JiTT (Just in Time Learning) and the changing needs of 21c learning, the top-down, liner approach remains the most popular teaching and training method disenfranchising many of out future workforce. The brave innovators and educators who push for change aren’t always popular. Just in Time learning has been shown to be effective but can be challenging for both learner and instructor so it is not always an attractive alternative. Research demonstrating the success and necessity for this approach needs to be shared and soon,,,,.

The main problem is that fixed and often outdated curriculum and training standards keep teachers and trainers on a fairly set sequential schedule, and ensure students are taught a common curriculum based on common grade levels. Even on-line education is fast drifting towards the same model with investment going into the purchase of complete holistic courses. “No!” said the Queen, “first the sentence, and then the evidence!” “Nonsense!” cried Alice, so loudly that everybody jumped, “the idea of having the sentence first!” Lewis Carroll

If we used our “sentence first” educational system’s logic to create a manufactured item, we would fail. Imagine building the school building and with the foundation only partial stable we build the next floor. Added to this the building remains the same whatever its eventual purpose as there are only so many “standard” parts we are allowed to use. Imagine building a car but with many necessary parts of the engine missing we continue to continue the construction, test the completed car and grade it as a failure because it will not start. The reality of todays workforce needs mean that this is exactly what is happening.

Much has been written about MOOCs (massive open online courses) and flipped classrooms. At the core of both is the idea that real learning happens informally, and time with an instructor being used for deeper interaction. Just-in-time learning shares that core principle, and seeks not to disrupt traditional education, but to augment it. But change seems so slow and we are taking two steps backwards for each forward step.

What happened to the “chunking” revolution? Many colleges and most governments are still pursuing the old model of education, resisting the push for chunking and effective digital learning. I suppose its not surprising given that most of the “key players” were successful in the old traditional system.

Chunking and JiTT not only offer opportunities for students to engage more and in a more enriching way, it also enables continuous, lifelong education and most important of all it allows for learning tailored for each individual user. Who really wants a one size fits all coat?

The caveat is that technology will only help those that adopt it in tandem with just-in-time learning, effective assessment and chunking. If we are just replacing an outdated model with a technology version of the same model it will fail. I am so often reminded of how easy it is to fool ourselves that we have the answer when we get frustrated with looking. Transferring old style learning to new technology in not the answer, even though many may want to believe it is. “a pole. The Pole” He declares, “Pooh has found the North Pole!” And just like that, the expedition is over. A A Milne

Steve Cushing