The Alchemist's Lair
Thoughts on writing, language, life as a freelancer,
and what comes to mind.
and what comes to mind.
A while ago Lucy Brooks, founder of eCPD Webinars, posted an interesting article on professional development (entitled Making sense of the CPD maze) describing success in training as a 4-step process going from setting your learning goals to reflecting on the courses undergone to build on your experiences for future improvement.
Having recently marked the 500th hour of CPD training myself, the article made me think about how my experiences as a learner had an impact on my choices as a trainer. It also made me investigate deeper into what I define as "successful CPD" and on the crucial role the choice of our training has in its overall outcomes and satisfaction.
So, how can we choose what's best for us in the ocean of CPD opportunities available out there? What criteria should we pay attention to when selecting our training? Looking back at my path as a learner, I identified 3 key areas.
#1 Know how you learn best
Some people are very good at learning through examples, others prefer taking notes over a traditional lesson, or looking at graphs and charts, or rather read a book themselves ... We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and our learning also depends on them.
As an example, those enjoying a learn-by-doing approach would find a workshop more rewarding than a lecture, because a workshop comes with a larger practical portion. This makes the learning experience more active and challenging, fostering attention and engagement.
Therefore, it is important to know a bit about ourselves, and what makes us switch to learning mode. This wouldn't only make us feel more motivated, but would also help us select the forms of training that works best for us.
#2 Size matters
A while ago, I was asked whether I would have been interested in offering a one hour webinar (including Q&A) about a very broad and complex topic. I refused, as 60 minutes just weren't enough to come up with a good overview of the main aspects involved, and made sure to tell my counterpart about the reasons why I wasn't interested.
Truth is, good training is just like a pair of shoes: it has to look appealing on the outside as much as it needs to be "comfortable", for all parties involved. In fact, the trainer needs to have enough time to provide participants with "real" content about the topic, whilst participants need to be given enough time to digest the information provided easily.
CPD comes in all sizes and formats, from shorter sessions and presentations (20 to 60 minutes) up to 2-day workshops or monthly courses (and more). Some topics can be addressed in one hour or less, others just need more time.
Before enrolling in a course, we should take a closer look at the session agenda and assess whether the format and duration of the lesson fit the discussion topic.
#3 Prioritise your learning
With the wealth of free learning opportunities out there, the risk of "overdoing" it is just off the corner. However, as Lucy points out in her article, planning is a crucial step in the success of our professional development activities. One of the most important things I learned about this is that it is also important to prioritise our learning - that is, if you really want to make the most out of it.
Learning a bit about this and a bit about that can be a good idea when you're just starting off in your career, because it will provide you with a general overview of topics and areas you might want to specialise on in the future. However, if you're really serious about specialising in a specific field/area, you should quit "snack sized learning" and focus on a limited number of topics.
Prioritising activities by choosing from a limited range of areas will make your overall learning more consistent, and you will gain a deeper understanding of your chosen topic. Additionally, this would make it all more manageable, profitable, and enjoyable.
How do you plan for training and professional development opportunities? What are the characteristics you seek in a course? Is CPD something you enjoy or you feel like it "needs to be done"?