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Your Professional Development Register

How should you record your Professional Development? What should you include on it?

Many organisations and professional membership bodies like to see, or make it compulsory, for staff or members to undertake Professional Development to ensure their vocational/professional skills and knowledge maintain currency (are kept up-to-date).

Professional Development is not a ‘learning’ exercise if it is experienced passively. Sitting in a seminar half asleep and not interacting with the presentation or discussion rarely produces any learning or ‘change in behaviour’ of the participant!

To be considered as extending someone’s skills and knowledge, the key information must be identified and contextualized into potential or real application in the workplace.

It is the ‘application’ of knowledge that is gained from PD that is important. Collecting facts or the names of people with whom you ‘networked’ at a PD session is not ‘learning’ or ‘development’ in its true sense.

Most organisations that require PD ask people to keep records. In the past, these often consisted of a list of seminars, conferences, articles, videos, discussion and so forth. In response to farcical lists devoid, of any explanation of the PD’s usefulness, many organisations are now requesting full details of the PD and explanations of how it is of value.

Therefore, I suggest that a simple but reasonably detailed Professional Development record or register should be kept for the following reasons:

  • To maintain a record for easy reference when needed,

  • To record PD in an appropriate format that will identify key skills and knowledge gained from the PD, and,

  • To ‘evidence’ how the PD skills and knowledge have, or might, be applied in the workplace

I have attached a suggested format to this post. Please email us if you would like a MS Word version (no obligations attached).

An interesting conundrum within the discussion on PD is whether social media sites, such as Linked In, should be considered in a PD record.

I recently posted discussions on two groups of Linked In professionals on this issue. The two sites generated over 150 comments. Overwhelmingly, people supported social media, in particular, Linked In discussions, as legitimate Professional Development.

However, the underlying theme that I dew from the discussion was that to be considered legitimate PD, an individual’s contribution needed to be:

  • active, although I personally consider reading through discussions without contributing can be ‘active’ if the information is used in some way; like reading an article or book and then applying the knowledge gained

  • key issues were drawn from the discussion that are relevant and useful to the skills and/or knowledge of the participant, or their workplace

  • the knowledge and skills can be applied or considered in some way to make changes or improvements to the workplace or the organisation

  • the PD is not focused on only one source (i.e. not just social media alone). A variety of mediums and sources will generally produce better quality of PD.

It is worth noting that Management researchers, such as Jean Lave, Chris Argyis, Donald Schon and many others, have studied the transfer of tacit knowledge (stored in people’s heads) through social interactions. Much knowledge in the workplace is not recorded, explicitly, in writing, video, audio, electronic or other mediums, but is passed from one person to another through conversation, demonstration and observation. This is often referred to as ‘socially distributed cognition’; or knowledge (cognition) that is passed-on through social interactions.

So, record social interactions as Professional Development, including those experienced through social media, but ensure that you record the key knowledge or skills that you acquired and how you or your organisation might make use of that information to achieve better outcomes.

To download a Word version of our PD record form, please click the icon on the front page of this web site.

Tim Sillcock

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