Professional development is a marathon not a sprint (part three)
Tags: Continuing Professional Development, Development for IT Practitioners
My two previous posts discussed the need for organisations to recognise and support the informal learning that takes place in the workplace in order to capitalise on their investment in formal training and development activity. They also considered the role that technology can play in supporting this continuous learning
In this post, I describe a simple model that suggests a way that we can tie together a range of different elements that will combine to provide a consistent and continuous way for IT practitioners to both develop and enhance their professional practice.
A model for continuing professional development for IT practitioners
After Jane Hart 2011i
Ideally this should be required only when there is a genuine lack of skills and knowledge. This, as I said in my introduction, is the spark, what comes after helps to keep the fire alight.
A library of resources provides a host of materials that is useful in helping learners:
- prepare for learning by accessing recommended resources
- access and refer back to learning resources that will support them when they come to use learning in the workplace
These resources may be supplied from training providers, vendors, on-line and off-line, from a wide variety of sources. But the key point is that these should be resources that professionals find genuinely useful. As the CIPD pointed out, it is the individual themselves who knows best what they need.
And of course, it is vitally important that user can, as they can elsewhere on the web, rate the materials so that other practitioners benefit from their perspective on how genuinely useful a resource is. As an aside, one of my favourite slideshare presentations Your Users Trust Each Other, Not You ii highlights some important statistics on user review
- 83% say online evaluations and reviews influence their purchasing decisions Opinion Research Corporation (2008)
- 76% use online reviews to help make purchase decisions Forrester Research (2007)
- 84% trust user reviews more than critics’ reviews MarketingSherpa (2007)
Creating an environment in which learners can learn from and with each other demands trust of individuals. It does mean that the organisation no longer has control of the learning that is taking place. But that’s no different to the huge quantity of informal learning that has always taken place, at the water cooler, in meetings or reading blogs such as these.
We have now at our disposal a huge range of opportunities to allow us to interact, share and learn from one another. The use of social media such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Ning has grown exponentially. Social bookmarking such as Delicious, Stumbleupon and Reddit allow us to rate and share what we find useful.
All of these put people in touch. All of which can be harnessed to help IT professionals create a group with a shared common interest and purpose.
Ultimately we should be aiming at creating a community of practice that allows individuals to:
- benefit from the experience and wisdom of colleagues and peers
- share best practice and learn from the lessons
- discuss and reflect on how they can adapt previous experience and learning to current problems
- incorporate ideas and suggestions from colleagues, peers and contemporaries
- develop as educators and mentors assisting other practitioners to find the answers they need
With that in mind, the role of the professional body is about providing guidance on how to make the best use of what is available – resources, contacts, publications, networking opportunities. Ultimately it’s about helping people to help themselves, which coincidentally is what professional affiliation should be about.
The objective should be to create an environment that helps people to:
- find answers to their own problems
- keep up to date with what is happening in the business, industry and/or profession
- build a trusted network of colleagues — inside and outside of the organisation
- communicate and collaborate with colleagues and peers
- share resources and experiences with colleagues
- take control of their professional development to the benefit of themselves…and the organisation.
The sum of these components provides a model for continuing professional development in the 21st century. These outcomes are no different to what professionals have been doing in the past, through a variety of different means.
It’s just that the technology now gives us far greater opportunities to interact and share knowledge. Our experiences outside of the workplace with access to social media to stay connected have created expectations that we should be able to do the same thing at work.
i Jane Hart — The State of Workplace Learning Today http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/handbook/state.html
ii Your Users Trust Each Other, Not You: Why and How to Implement Ratings and Review – Molecular Inc http://www.slideshare.net/MolecularInc/your-users-trust-each-other-not-you-why-and-how-to-implement-ratings-and-reviews-presentation