How to Keep Up with Digital Trends in CPDJune 22nd, 2016 | Share on:
Continuing Professional Development is important to both individuals and organisations. CPD is about learning that facilitates professional growth. It helps people to develop and organisations to evolve. It can be challenging to keep up in the rapidly changing landscape of CPD since digital trends are changing its definition. We are no longer talking about face-to-face training, or about online courses imitating face-to-face training. We are moving beyond the idea of a classroom, and CPD is becoming bite sized, personalised, and on demand.
At VeryConnect we have spoken with CPD experts from professional bodies, public agencies, and private training providers to find out how the CPD landscape is changing for professional associations. Read on to see how you can continue to provide your members with the most valuable CPD opportunities in an increasingly digital world.
Digital technologies have an increasing influence on CPD for Professional Associations.
The Importance of CPD for Professional Associations
Knowledge is one of the keys to success in our society. Much of what we learned at university has an expiry date. CPD no longer comes from organisational requirements only. It is needed to survive in the job market. Part of the role of professional associations can be seen to encourage members to undertake CPD, regardless if this is required in the profession or not. By signposting members to excellent CPD opportunities, professionalism can be maintained and developed. Highly developed professionalism can in turn raise the reputation of the profession, and provide society with high quality services. Digital trends provide many opportunities for professional associations to extend the CPD offering to their members.
Trends in Professional Development
Elizabeth McLaggan, CPD Specialist and Director at Level Training says: “People are now accustomed to a 24/7 access lifestyle where pretty much everything can be done at the click of a mouse or with a tap on a smartphone and I think this will be reflected in trends for CPD design and delivery”. Industry experts seem to agree. Our lives are increasingly online, and we are used to getting what we want, when we want it.
Mobile and microlearning emerged as a strong trend in the interviews. Elizabeth continues: “There is the flexibility to learn in bite size chunks, for example to watch a webinar, podcast or TED talk during downtime such as travelling.” People want to learn when they have time, and mobile enables this.
In line with mobile learning, videos and webinars are on the rise. Clare Hodgson, Professional Development Manager at ACCA says “Webinars are hugely popular and also cost-effective. Over the past 18 months webinars have become very popular.”
Mobile makes bite sized learning through videos possible.
Learning is becoming more personalised. Technology gives opportunities for more personalisation, and people are increasingly choosing their CPD activities in line with their own career goals. Some professions have learning activities that are required, but there seems to be an increasing flexibility regarding how individuals chose to achieve these goals. Overall, there is a larger self-influence of CPD, and digital is a key enabler. Susie Phillips-Baker, Development Advisor at the College of Policing concludes “Mobile means taking control of your own CPD”.
A more self-influencing learner means that the role of the educator is changing too. There is a shift from chalk and talk teaching to coaching and mentoring. Online technology helps educators to build and maintain supportive relationships with learners. Consequently CPD is becoming more informal and conversational. Importance is put on team learning and knowledge sharing, with online discussion groups and blogs becoming forums for reflective learning.
CPD technologies are moving towards an all-in-one approach. Previously organisations had an online platform for each CPD function. It is likely that we will see more organisations having all their CPD tools in one place. From webinars and mentoring, to CPD recording and evaluations. All mobile and available 24/7 to make sure that members can get a multifaceted learning experience wherever they are. Clare says: “The end goal would be to have one place so members get all CPD in one area”.
Digital Challenges in CPD for Professional Associations
One of the main challenges in digital CPD is the lack of a way to quantify mobile and microlearning as formal training. This is particularly challenging as it seems to be the learning style many of us gravitate towards. Susie says: “One thing we’d like is for people to be able to upload CPD evidence wherever they are. That would be really welcomed”.
Alison Loveday, CPD Manager at Scottish Enterprise says: “It takes as much effort to deliver good content online as in a classroom”, and emphasises that time and investment are deceptive. CPD online cannot be seen as a cheaper alternative to face-to-face learning but as a valuable complementary tool. It has to be highly engaging and strike a balance between being easy to access and having valuable content. Alison continues: “In the age of open access to really inspirational material online, for example, TED Talks, this raises the bar for CPD providers, which is a really good thing. It's important to maintain quality when developing online and digital learning resources."
Digital technologies are a complement to face-to-face learning.
Even if digital learning is on the rise we need to remember that it might not be for everyone, at least not initially. There is a possibility that Digital Natives will appreciate it more than older generations, and you will still face the same attitudes of early adopters and resisters as in face-to-face training.
Financial matters can become challenging too. Clare says: “People are more selective with what they pay for. Maybe they will do one face-to-face course complemented with webinars”. So the question is what the perceived value is from a CPD conference compared with that of a webinar, and how to implement pricing structures based on that.
Professional Development in a Digital World
The opportunities outweigh the challenges in digital CPD for professional associations. Digital tools give you the possibility to connect with your members on many more levels than formal training allows for. You can give your members more choice, personalisation, and flexibility. With the right blended approach of face-to-face training and digital learning you can create opportunities for CPD that suit your members needs. Finding the right tools and the right blended approach goes back to understanding your members. With a member focused CPD strategy in place, you can help your members to develop and your association to evolve.
We can help you to enhance your members’ learning experience. Our online platforms accommodate webinars, mentoring, blogs, discussion boards, and much more. Our expert team can give advice on how to best combine technology and strategy. Get in touch with us today at email@example.com and I'd be happy to talk about what we can offer you.
Many thanks to Clare Hodgson, Alison Loveday, Elizabeth McLaggan, and Susie Phillips-Baker for their invaluable contributions to this article.