At the end of January Maren Deepwell invited #CMALT people on twitter to participate in a conversation to think about how we all record and plan our ongoing Continued Professional Development (CPD) activity for the CMALT portfolio reviews which take place every three years.
— Maren Deepwell (@MarenDeepwell) January 22, 2018
In February I took part in a really interesting Google Hangout with Maren Deepwell, Lorna Campbell and David Hopkins, which started with a discussion around how we currently track our CPD activity. It occurred to me that I’ve never designed what I do, it’s happened organically, so in writing this post will describe what I do, reflect on why I do it and see if this gives me any ideas for improvements.
My approach to recording CPD:
I’m very much a recorder of events. I enjoy taking notes (it helps me focus), photos and making diagrams and use these later when I go to make sense of what the experience has meant for me.
At work I use OneNote – I’ve set up a CPD notebook with tabs for each activity, looking at these I see they can be activities I’m currently doing, so under ‘Career Ready‘ I’m making notes of all the activities and training for this activity, or aspiration, ‘Marketing‘ is something I’m looking to find out more about, so here I’m collecting opportunities and noting articles.
If I need to know how to do something, either by going to Google or asking someone, I make time to record the answer – so I can easily get back to it – that is all in the ‘How To Do‘ tab.
Over the last couple of years I’ve moved to digital note taking, before that I had loads of paper notebooks. I take my laptop or a device to use for note taking. (I might at some point write a whole post about digital note taking so I’ll leave this here for now).
Since completing my CMALT and recent review – I’m now much better at collecting evidence of what I do. I take the time to write blog posts because I know I will get the benefit of them later. I collect as I go.
At work, I am asked to compile a list of training courses for my Annual Development Review (ADR), which can be interesting to look back on, I usually compile this at the last minute by looking back at my diary, notes taken at events, and add in links to anything I blogged about. At my annual review I take suggestions with me so I can talk through with my line manager what I want to do and opportunities that might help me to get there. Its worth bearing in mind it can often take a while to actually get accepted on the course you want to go on. I was able to participate in the Leadership Foundation for Higher Educations Aurora programme on the third year I applied – but it was worth the wait.
My approach to planning CPD
In approaching CPD I try to balance what I need to work on with what I’m interested in and the needs of my employer and my current job role. I’m also lucky to have a mentor at work (through the Aurora scheme) who is a great listener and wise advisor and it has been really useful to talk through my development with her.
What do I need?
I try to identify where there are skill or knowledge I need, for example as part of participating in the Aurora programme I identified that I needed to better understand assertiveness – and then went on to find that knowledge and experience.
What’s out there?
I make a note of opportunities I’m interested in when I see or hear about them, (usually on Twitter or mailing lists, or by word-of-mouth) even if the time is not right for me:
BYOD4L BRING YOUR OWN DEVICES FOR LEARNING: AN OPEN LEARNING EVENT FOR STUDENTS & TEACHERS (FACILITATED, STAND-ALONE) – this was on my radar for a couple of years before I managed to take part is some of it earlier this year.
Jisc Digital Leaders Programme – I saw an interesting panel discussion about this at Digifest, so I’ve kept a note of this to look at further.
Senior Fellow of the HEA – I’ve been on a waiting list to take part in our institutional scheme for HEA accreditation for the last year.
My institution has a Lynda.com subscription, I must admit I got very excited about this when I first had access, but have neglected it somewhat lately. There are good courses in there, but there is no social interaction around them and I miss that aspect. They are great if you just need to know about something, then and there. I finished the Learning Path to Become a Manager a while back and I am part way through the Learning Paths to Become a Content Strategist.
Moocs – I’ve completed a few but am always seeing more that look interesting. Recently I completed an Introduction to Personal Branding on Coursera which was created by the University of Virginia. As a learning technology advisor, I always enjoy these from two angles, both the content and the approaches taken to learning design, content creation and delivery.
I try to think beyond training courses at other development opportunities to gain skills or experience I need. Last year to get mentoring experience I became a Career Ready mentor – which has proved to be both a challenging and rewarding learning experience. I’ve also taken on managing a student intern to gain management and recruitment experience.
What I consider to be CPD:
So CPD for me is everything I do to try to develop myself. It is training courses and conferences I attend, as well as those I plan and deliver. It’s the questions I ask myself and then try to seek answers too. It’s the stretch opportunities I take on at work.
I also read a lot of books, I love getting a book recommendation and will often be ploughing through a book months after the reasons for the original recommendations have faded. I did for a while try to take notes of what I thought of books, but that just doesn’t fit with the context of when I read, which is mainly listening to audiobooks while I walk or reading in bed. Part of this is my belief that you don’t always have to actively listen, if something is important or relevant to you, you won’t miss it. I occasionally take a photo of the front cover just as a reminder!
The stuff I want to think about but not to share…
I’ve also found it very useful to use writing to help me to think through something. In our conversation we discussed the ‘personal’ aspect of CPD – not every problem you are working through can be shared in public, or can be fixed by gaining particular knowledge. I have use google docs as a space for my private reflection. I’ve got a folder I call ‘Work Pondering’ where I write down things I want to think about, and I find that writing about them and revisiting them on several occasions can really help this process.
Writing to share…..
I started with private writing but over the years I have built up my confidence to share some of my writing. I write blog posts for my team blog and participated in an online course run at the University of Edinburgh called 23Things for Digital Knowledge and now have set up a personal blog on my own domain.
Blogging is teaching me different skills including: writing for an audience, writing with a message, writing to remember, or to connect with other people, or to promote an activity.
What’s for me and what’s for my role?
My work ADR is for here and know opportunities that are clearly role related. There are other things I want to develop that are aspirational, tangential and I can’t really link to work and these I decide to do in my own time. When I wrote my original CMALT portfolio, looking at what I did in relation to the core areas made me think about my own experience at that point and identify where I wanted to gain more – it wasn’t always immediately obvious how that related to my current job, seeing things within the CMALT guidelines gave me more confidence to pursue further development in these related ares.
Like everyone, sometimes I have to do CPD I’m told to do! For example I’ve completed compulsory training in, Engaging with Change, Understanding Recruitment, Selection and the law and Information Security Essentials some in face to face sessions and others online.
I try to approach this with an open mind. As a trainer myself, I am respectful of the person who is delivering the training (I’ve stood in their shoes, I don’t want to be the tough crowd!). I try to think about what is the underlying strategic reason why I’ve been sent on this? I try to get something out of every session even if it is ideas on the style or process of delivery.
I have come to accept that life is a work in progress and accept that I need to keep learning and that I often revisit the same subject for several years from several angles…. for example I don’t think I’m every going to be done with, presentation skills, time management, project management or people skills. Not that I’m particularly uninformed about any of these – just there is always more to learn!
Writing this post has been a useful exercise that has left me with these questions:
Am I being efficient in the way I approach planning and recording my CPD? Could I streamline and plan better?
How do other people record their CPD?
What do we all understand to be CPD activity?
I look forward to continuing this conversation.