Just in Time vs Just in Case Learning

Just in Time vs Just in Case

I recently heard these terms for the first time and I was intrigued. Learning about these two different ways of approaching learning something can help us to learn more effectively and also enjoy the process of learning. First off, let’s understand what each term means.

Just in Case Learning

Just in case learning in the traditional approach to learning in most schools around the world. We are taught a large range of subjects in our early schooling years most of which at the time doesn’t have a particular application. Who of us hasn’t ever been in a complex maths class and uttered the words “When will I ever need to know this!”

Basically just in case learning is when you learn something without having a direct application for the new knowledge right now. And so that leads us to just in time learning.

Just in Time Learning

Just in time learning is basically the opposite of just in case learning. In this case we learn something right at the moment we have an application for it. An example might be that you are trying to fix a dripping tap. Now I’m sure any handyman worth his weight would be able to fix this no problem but if you’re anything like me you’d have no idea! So what do we do? The first thing I would do is to search YouTube for a video about fixing a leaking tap just like this one: How to fix a dripping, leaking tap

Here I am learning something and then applying it immediately. I go out, find exactly the information I’m after and then apply it to my situation just in time to fix my problem.

So which is better?

This is a fair enough question and I think the answer depends on the situation and the topic being learnt. Having said that I think that for most cases just in time learning is going to be most appropriate. Here are my reasons for thinking this:

Benefits of Just in Time Learning

  • By immediately applying what has been learnt you reinforce the knowledge leading to better recognition and understanding
  • By only learning a skill when you need it you can focus on learning things which will have the most impact on your life. This is especially true in today’s complex world where it is impossible to know everything. Instead only focusing on the things you need to know allows you to better specialise your life course
  • The things you learn tend to be more targeted and specific meaning that they won’t take long to learn. This allows you to be constantly learning new things from all sorts of fields without having to go too far down any one path
  • Because the knowledge is immediately applicable it will be more interesting and you’ll be more likely to pay attention

There are however some cases where just in case learning may be the way to go:

Benefits of Just in Case Learning

  • Learning about something you are interested in even if there is no direct application to your life now can still be fun if you enjoy the topic
  • Sometimes you cannot see an application for a subject until you have learnt it. This is often the case with general topics such as self help or business
  • You may not realise you need to know something until it is too late. Just in case learning can help to eliminate these issues

My Personal Strategy

So how do I personally use each type of learning in my life? Even though I think just in time learning is better overall because I enjoy the process of learning and like learning about a wide range of subjects I tend to do a lot of just in case learning through reading various business and self help books. Just check out my book reviews and you’ll get a taste of the types of books I read!

Generally here is how I’d use the two types of learning:

How I Use Just in Time Learning

  • Any programming questions I come across in my side projects
  • Any technical questions I come across in my 9-5 IT work
  • Specific questions I have when working on my online business endevours
  • Basically any questions which pop into my head at any time. Just Google it!

How I Use Just in Case Learning

  • Reading books relating to small/micro/online business
  • Reading books about self improvement or successful people
  • Reading blog articles about a variety of topics I’m interested
  • Listening to podcasts about online businesses, self improvement and IT/programming

As I described previously I use just in case learning to keep abreast of the latest trends in areas I’m interested in as well as to increase my general knowledge of these topics. Any specific questions I have will be answered using just in time learning.

So what about you? How do you use just in time or just in case learning? Do you agree with my thoughts here?

Please let me know in the comments your thoughts.

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