Continuing Personal Development: Adaptive learning for professional development

Brightwave’s Marketing Manager Hayley Maisey discusses how she overcomes the challenges of professional development with a personalised approach, and what the future holds for individuals and organisations wanting to do the same.

Professional development can sometimes feel like trying to squeeze the wrong piece into a jigsaw. In one hand, you have the experience and skills gained from the everyday challenges you’ve overcome and the tasks you’ve performed. In the other, the framework for accreditation – the checklist of learning points you need to hit to receive formal recognition or qualifications. In an ideal world, they slot together nicely. In reality, the puzzle can remain unfinished.

The question for employers is how do you bring the two things together so your people are recognised for the informal learning and achievements they make organically every day? In other words, how do you make professional development personal?
For me, the answer lies in continued professional development (CPD) and an agile platform and framework to support it, in my case The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Eager to drive my own personal CPD, I’m one of many thousands of marketers making up the members of CIM. With a prolific choice of training courses, awards and qualifications on offer, this professional body provides a sure-fire way for me to demonstrate my capabilities to any current or future employer.

But it’s more than that. Instead of just providing formal, one-size-fits-all learning opportunities, CIM also works alongside members, giving them a chance to track and officiate the learning they’re already doing. This method of accreditation is flexible and personal to me and allows me to build my professional development jigsaw – without forcing the pieces together.

But why do we depend on ticking boxes and accreditation? Is it not enough just to recognise in ourselves that we’re learning and progressing? Perhaps. But there’s something to be said for clear goals and measure of success. Concrete evidence of my professional mileage, through the certification I receive, gives me that reassurance that I’m going in the right direction and lets me celebrate my own success.

But beyond the motivational benefits, certification also demonstrates my achievements to others, if not for the promotion or pay rise, for the pat on the back that simply says ‘well done, you deserved it’. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, most of the achievements made by any given employee in a week goes by without notice, let alone reward, so it’s nice to draw attention to them where possible. This is especially important in a field like Marketing which by nature moves at a phenomenal pace. It’s important to keep up with the latest trends, tools and methodologies if you want to succeed, and current or future employers may require tangible evidence that I can do this.

So CIM offers me accreditation that’s agile and fits with my everyday job, but one thing I’m hoping to see in the near future is not just proof of my learning but smarter ways of serving me learning content in the first place. At the moment I can search for things when I want to and then record what I’ve done, but what if I don’t know what to search for, where to look or indeed that I need to search for anything at all? ‘We don’t know what we don’t know’, after all…

This is where external capability frameworks – whether provided by the employer, the accrediting body or an independent third party – aligned with an effective diagnostic tool can make a real difference. By this, I mean a form of data collection, perhaps a series of questions, that’s used to benchmark my learning requirements and deliver me content according to where I need to go next. tessello’s learning pathways work in just this way, delivering an optimal route to performance excellence based on how learners answer a series of knowledge based questions. This means smarter learning and, when teamed with completion and accreditation status, smarter professional development.

But what could the future hold for organisations looking to take it one step further?

This is a big question with an even bigger potential answer, which would cover the xAPI, big data, AI and adaptive tech. Using these machine insights, our devices will soon know not just what content to serve us, but when to serve it, before we know we need it. For example, if I send an email containing the words ‘social media, PR crisis’, a trigger is made which opens a window of information about crisis management in public relations. Once I’ve read it, I can not only respond to the problem but will be tracked for doing so. And the fact that I have successfully tackled and averted a new and potentially dangerous situation is automatically filed and accredited against my registered CPD attainment profile.

How do you drive your own professional development? And what challenges do you face fitting this in with your everyday job? We want to hear from you! Comment below or get in touch over Twitter or Linkedin.

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