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Just-in-time learning and types of knowledge: 2

April 20, 2008

close-up of a banded, brown-lipped snail

Another useful knowledge typology is one I compiled from some interesting references in Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models, a 2004 JISC report by Terry Mayes and Sara de Freitas. This model focuses on individual rather than collective knowledge, but like Alice Lam’s framework sees knowledge as extending in two binary dimensions, domain specific – generic, and declarative – procedural, as in the diagram below.

In this schema, domain-specific refers to knowledge of the data, concepts, and language particular to a distinct realm of knowledge such as physics or plumbing; while generic knowledge covers the general learning abilities which enable people to become successful independent learners – skills like self-confidence, self-discipline, organisation, communication and collaboration skills, critical thinking and reflexivity.

Declarative knowledge is explicit, conceptual, conscious and externalised knowledge of the kind that normally results from academic learning; as opposed to procedural knowledge which is implicit, instrumental, largely unconscious and internalised knowledge of the kind we associate with skillful practice of any kind.

While the declarative – procedural dimension is very similar to Lam’s explicit – tacit one, the domain-specific – generic axis draws attention to a different but equally important aspect of learning. In particular, many of the types of learning that are most important to a networked organisation in a fast-moving knowledge economy – generic learning skills which can only be developed through practice in a particular context – take place in the generic / procedural quadrant of the framework. This type of learning is cumulative and sustained, and yet more habitual than theoretical. And it is precisely this type of learning that the Just-in-time approach would seem least suited to delivering.

Mayes and de Freitas comment:

There is a growing agenda … giving greater emphasis to what are becoming called employability assets. These outcomes are all generic – not dependent on declarative knowledge – and include analytical and flexible learning capabilities, but also emphasise qualities that are much harder to specify as part of a curriculum: confidence, self-discipline, communication, ability to collaborate, reflexivity, questioning attitudes. These outcomes start to suggest a crucial role for the community of practice approach, and turn our attention to learning environments that provide maximum opportunity for communication and collaboration…
(Mayes & de Freitas, 2004)


Mayes, T & de Freitas, S, 2004, Review of e-learning theories,frameworks and models: JISC eLearning Models Desk Study, Stage 2, available online in pdf format from

From → H806

  1. Elizabeth permalink


    Not sure I can add anything to the theory, but here’s an illustration of JIT learning which I thought was generic/procedural. It’s an interview simulation which focuses on behaviours. I haven’t felt as strongly as you that JIT learning is necessarily so limited – in fact I’ve been warming to it. Apologies for picking an example which needs a password (if that’s breaking blog etiquette).


  2. johnmill permalink

    Hmm, that’s a good example, and I probably need to go back to the drawing board.
    However while its certainly procedural, but is it really generic? Does it teach you how to BE self confident but not boastful – or just to COME ACROSS that way?

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