In a fast-paced business environment, employees don’t have time for an hour-long traditional classroom or e-learning program. They prefer options such as video on-demand, digital asset libraries, mobile and other forms of just-in-time learning.
Commonly called “pull” or informal learning, these just-in-time solutions differ from traditional “push” types of classroom instruction by enabling users to access at the point of need and find compressed nuggets of content that can help them with specific tasks or workflow.
Businesses and employees haven’t always been eager to adopt pull learning technologies. When pest control and exterminator service Orkin first introduced its video on-demand learning module in 2005, employees were intrigued but skeptical, said Greg Baumann, vice president of training and technical services for Rollins Inc., the parent company for Orkin.
E-learning courseware company Skillsoft experienced a similar situation when it first invested in pull types of learning technology. In 2001, the company purchased Books24x7, a digital asset library software company.
“Investors asked why we were buying an e-books company because e-books and e-learning seemed to be two different domains,” said John Ambrose, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Skillsoft. “Even back then, I think we realized this idea of pull learning was a powerful one.”
Now, more than a decade after Skillsoft acquired Books24x7, pull types of technology have left the early adopter phase and entered into the mainstream, according to David Mallon, vice president of research at Bersin by Deloitte. Research from Bersin found in 2011, 25 percent of companies in the U.S. invested in informal learning tools and services. Further, large companies more than doubled their spending on informal learning between 2010 and 2011.