The “just-in-time” supply chain strategy transforms education?

We suppose it was just a matter of time before the “just-in-time” supply chain strategy found its way out of the warehouse and into the classroom.

Just in time means you don’t warehouse massive quantities of your product, be it books, clothes, or kitchen tools. You order only enough stock to meet your needs just in time to fill customer requests. The just-in-time strategy saves on both warehouse space and cash flow and has proven very successful in the world of commerce.

Increasingly, that strategy is being implemented in the realm of IT education. Millennials are requiring the same sort of on-demand response from the educational system that they demand from Uber. Instead of committing to a 4-year (or more) degree program, they are opting for short bursts of education, classes that provide only the tech skills they need at any given moment.

Those short classes can be on-line MOOCs, bootcamps, or face-to-face courses in traditional institutions. Their only requirement is that they are targeted and brief.

“Just-in-time” education harmonizes well with how the brain works, according to education experts. Short lectures, focusing only on key concepts, delivered over a few weeks, and applied to real world situations capitalize on natural learning processes.

Given the high cost of a college degree and the constantly and rapidly changing world of high tech, the “just-in-time” approach to education is understandable. It certainly resonates with a business climate that classifies human workers as “capital”.

Judging by its increasing popularity and effectiveness at preparing workers for technology professions, it appears that the new educational paradigm is successful. Nevertheless, one feels compelled to ask whether job training and education are really the same thing. Can a few courses, as useful as they may be, really take the place of a traditional liberal arts education? Maybe so, if your goal is only to get a job. But if you want to understand the sweep of human culture or the richness of language or philosophy or art or science – whether you ever intend to use such knowledge in a job setting – the answer is definitely no.