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Continuous Learning for L&D Professionals

We’re all doing more with less nowadays, and sometimes we forget to take care of our own professional development. A smarter strategy is to weave our professional development into our daily routines as much as possible. Here are some ideas on how to make personal learning a habit.

Join Professional Associations

Becoming an active member in a professional organization offers many advantages. It provides a great opportunity to network with colleagues, learn about trends, and expand your knowledge base.

Some professional organizations that are specific to L&D include: the Association for Talent Development (ATD), the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), the Organizational Development (OD) Network, and the eLearning Guild. Attending the monthly meetings and regional gatherings is an excellent way to get an outside perspective on your daily challenges.

Obtain Professional Certification

With certification you’ll acquire additional knowledge, be able to incorporate new methodologies and technologies in your work, and gain credibility in a specific field or subject. Many schools and associations offer certification programs that help develop and refine professional skills.

ATD offers Certification as a Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP). It requires three years’ of industry-related work experience as a prerequisite and costs between $799 and $999. The certification process consists of a passing a knowledge exam and submitting work samples.

Attend Conferences

Conferences that are hosted by professional associations are a way to participate in seminars, meet other L&D professionals, and learn about hot industry topics.

Attend Webinars

If you’d rather not leave your office, you can still participate virtually by attending webinars—some of which are free. Here are some sources for L&D-related webinars:

  • Training Magazine hosts complimentary webinars from L&D thought leaders.
  • Chief Learning Officer also hosts regular webinars by industry leaders, and if you miss the live event, you can listen to the recording.
  • Bersin by Deloitte offers free webinars on subjects such as “21st Century Content Authoring,” and “Making Learning Stick.”
  • TrainingIndustry.com offers live and on-demand webinars on topics such as: “How to Use Social Media for Learning” and “Changing Behavior to Produce Results.”
Use Your Social Network

LinkedIn has a number of groups that are specific to L&D, including: ATD National, Chief Learning Officers Network, eLearning Global Network, and Instructional Design Professional Group. Once you join a group, you can post questions to other group members and participate in open discussions. It’s an effective way to get a quick answer—especially if you are a one-man or one-woman training department.

On Twitter, there are recurring online chats about L&D. For example, #chat2learn occurs every other Thursday at noon EDT, and #clouduc8, a monthly discussion about learning in the cloud, happens on the first Wednesday of the month at noon EDT. For a list of L&D-related chats, browse the profiles of Lisa GoldsteinLesley Price, and JD Dillon.

Reading blogs is an efficient way to keep up with the latest trends in educational technologies and insights from L&D thought leaders. You may already have some blogs bookmarked or have subscribed to RSS feeds of blogs, and it also doesn’t hurt to expand your horizons and discover some new blogs. Training Magazine has compiled a fairly comprehensive list of L&D blogs.