For some time I’ve been following my own path of professional development with a view towards moving away from producing digital educational content towards doing similar in a business setting, in Learning and Development.
I’ve been interested in CPD in general for a long time, something that became a big ‘thing’ when I was a teacher. I found it very motivating as a teacher and also ever since. I try to always be looking at what’s going on and what people are talking about in the field I’m working, in order to keep abreast of changes, current discussions and also potential improvements to my working practices.
Some time ago, via Harold Jarche, I became a fan of the concept of PKM – personal knowledge management (or Personal Knowledge Mastery, as Harold calls it). I followed his guidance and other social media awareness when I was a teacher to develop a personal learning network (PLN) and interact in online spaces. As an English language teacher, often moving from country to country after a year or two in one place (often without decent local support for professional development) the opportunity to connect with peers across the globe, working in different contexts, was a really powerful and positive force in my working life.
A couple of years ago, I made the decision that I would like to transition into the field of L&D. I’ve always been more interested in learning resources and experiences and what’s possible rather than specific content in a particular field, which was ELT (English Language Teaching). I, like most people, have suffered in poor quality training courses and I’ve been required to use badly designed content. I’ve even been required to create content that I don’t like, which I think is badly designed, because I’ve been given a brief and been paid to do so! I suspect this is the same for most people who have worked on learning content development.
In the future, I’d like to be in a position to analyse a context and the needs of the people involved and design, or provide support, for what is really needed. Using human-centred design to make a process of workplace learning, performance support or professional development better.
So, a couple of years ago, following my PKM strategy, I made it my aim to find, follow and connect to the most interesting and knowledgeable people sharing good content about learning in the workplace, including e-learning, instructional design and learning experience design.
People to follow
This led me to find and learn from people like Jane Hart, Nick Shackleton-Jones, Michelle Parry-Slater, Donald Clark, Clark Quinn, Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner, and Connie Malamed. I’ve also found some podcast content extremely useful such as Ross and Owen et al on the Good Practice podcast and David James’ Learning and Development podcast, while the newsletters from training zone.co.uk, elearningcoach (Connie Malamed also has a podcast) and Working the Future have proved useful.
I’m always pondering and experimenting and trying to connect ideas, and it’s clear to me that there’s a lot of crossover between the fields of L&D, education and educational publishing. But it’s also noticeable that there is a lack of awareness of what is going on on the ‘other side’, a point made by Ross Garner on a recent episode of the Good Practice podcast. Particularly around e-learning, both educational publishers and providers, and business-based L&D teams often seem to be grappling with similar issues, surrounding the judicious use of learning technologies, engagement and motivation, blended and flipped learning, metrics and data analysis, and what exactly constitutes best practice in learning experience design.
Where am I now?!
Anyway, I decided to scribble this today because I’ve just started the CIPD Level 5 L&D course with DPG and I thought I’d take time to reflect on how exactly I got to this point!
After some time working on a self-directed learning pathway towards L&D, I’m jumping into a formal qualification with both feet. Still not sure where all this will end!
At the moment, I feel very much like a learning generalist with a variety of skills and plenty of knowledge, but with a lack of clarity on exactly where I’m going. It doesn’t help that the field of L&D itself seems to have a problem with terminology, job titles, and existential issues surrounding the purpose of their existence!
Onwards and upwards! 🙂