Log in

Just in Time - An Idea Whose Time has Come

One of the mantras that can be used to reflect on teaching practice is, “What story am I telling and what do I get out of it”.
One of the stories often told is that there is not enough time to do what needs to be done. For those that exercise on an excercycle the indisputable fact is that five minutes is always three hundred seconds no matter how fast you go or how fit you are. There is nothing to be gained by fighting the inevitable, time is constant. The only thing we can change is our behaviour in any given time period.
This and the next two blogs explore three stories on changing our behaviour to make time.
In teaching much time can be saved by choosing the right time. In the days of old one was reminded that a stitch in time saved nine and one was encouraged to strike while the iron was hot. A version of Victor Hugo's quote says it best though, "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come."  Over the last few years there has been a challenge issued to classroom teachers to move from the idea of the "just in case approach" to the "just in time approach” to the delivery of content, skills and process. In 2006 a keynote at a New Zealand conference shared this concept and created a ripple effect in classrooms around the country. I was faced with the challenge to embrace "just in time" to better meet my students needs or defend my practice in light of this approach. I researched all I could on the Internet, talked with colleagues and grappled with developing a workable model that improved student learning within my classes. My trials left both myself and my students dissatisfied. My experimentation had robbed students of valuable learning time that I could not replace. 
Five years on and the landscape has changed drastically. A growing number of students and staff have inexpensive mobile devices. Many schools and homes are wireless and mobile networks deliver internet to the places in between. It is time to tell a different story. The computer in your pocket, the iPod/iPhone/android/cellphone or the iPad, the netbook or the laptop give people access to a world of information.
Already teachers use YouTube for delivery of content and skills using a variety of entertaining and informative video clips. The access to information through online encyclopaedias, Google and sites like Wolfram grows daily. Social networking sites are creating opportunities for learning conversations between people separated by time and place. The creation and sharing of content has never been easier.
Today people  are living just in time lives in their homes. Watching MySky or TV on-demand, finding tonight’s dinner recipe on the net and watching YouTube for instructions to change the brake pads on the car. GPS is the new map book of choice. Today’s first call when sick is not Mum. The internet is the new medical expert giving that first diagnosis or the reassurance that the doctor might just be right.
Students can rightly ask, “Can school give me anything that I can’t get on the internet quicker.” Teachers need to design learning within a digital environment and students need access to content and skills that are relevant to their learning when they need them. Teachers play a pivotal role in guiding students along their learning journey. Using their skills and knowledge as educators, teachers make the learning easier for the students and give the learning context. Just in case can no longer keep up with identifying and delivering what students need to know from all the information available today.
The answer to making time is constructing the learning in the digital world. The time for “just in time” has arrived.
The last word must go to my iPhone. Recently while I enjoyed a coffee at the Kakaramea Hotel, I checked my iphone for the time. From the screen of the iPhone the following wisdom was shared, “There is no time available when there is no cellular connection”.