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Kathy Sierra on “Just-in-Time Learning” vs. “Just-in-Case Learning”

Bestselling author Kathy Sierra has an interesting post on the motivations behind learning. She contrasts the just-in-time approach to the just-in-case one. Her point is that just-in-time is generally more effective. Unfortunately, most of us have learned via the just-in-case model. Most books are also structured around the just-in-case model, if you ask me.

The best advice in her post has to do with overcoming the limitations of just-in-case learning. It’s something she does very effectively in the Head First series.


Kathy Sierra

Hey thanks Joe!

Here's a comment someone just posted that I think is relevant:
(from Kevin Teoh)
"Exactly! I 'suffered' through high school (but managed good grades :D) because I couldn't find a good reason WHY I was learning the subjects - 70% didn't click. I absolutely hated cramming for the exams - because I knew I won't remember anything after that..."

"Books that provide solid examples of applications are among the best, in my opinion. Going through half of the past week attempting to digest fluid dynamics (science), it wasn't fun at all - until I read a book's page on its applications. Now, I believe the brain-gear really fell into place right at that moment."

Michael Miller

I've found the "just in time" model to be especially true in the tech book market. With the exception of some higher-end programming books, most people buy computer books because they have a problem they need to fix, not because they actually want to learn something. They just want the problem fixed -- which requires "just in time" information. Listening to people's problems have inspired some of my better-selling books, FWIW.

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