I've just been reviewing some of my participants’ end of programme CPD records: reading what they have learned and – more importantly – how they’ve used their new found knowledge and skills both personally and professionally. I’m always amazed at the sheer range of learning opportunities that have arisen – both planned and unplanned – and the different things that people take away from their learning experiences.
I’m aware, however, that producing a CPD record is not always the easiest thing to do: reflecting on your learning isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us. I can recall many occasions where I’ve been sitting at my keyboard, fingers poised, wondering what on earth to write. And – let’s be honest – it’s not often top of anyone’s “to-do” list. What with work, studying, family demands and – if you’re very lucky – a bit of a social life, CPD can easily be put on the back burner. This is understandable, but it does come with a health warning: leave it for too long and you’ll find that the end of the programme has arrived and you have nothing written in your CPD record.
But it’s not all doom and gloom: there are some simple things you can do to keep your CPD records up to date without spending hours on it.
Here are my top three tips to get you started and help you keep going and turn CPD from “Confusion, Procrastination, Despair” to “Contemplated, Planned, Done”!
1. CPD can be fun (yes, really!)
Opportunities to learn come in lots of different forms – it’s not all sitting for hours reading a book you don’t understand and aren’t enjoying then having to write about it. Think about how you like to do things and how you could make the most of these approaches to build your knowledge and skills. Watching TV programmes like The Apprentice and Undercover Boss are great for observing how people behave in teams, or when they’re leading others, or finding out how things are done in other companies. Films can also be a source of learning – check out Made In Dagenham which dramatises the fight for equal pay in the UK in the 60s. If you’re into social media, then sites like LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great way to keep up to date with the latest thinking and research. Free smart phone apps such as the Employment Law Cloud are useful for bite-sized legal updates too.
2. Kill two birds with one stone
It’s often easier to spot CPD opportunities when the activity is formal or planned, such as attending a workshop or doing a work placement, but so much of our learning is gained informally. Anything you do at work (such as attending a team meeting, having a conversation with a colleague, peer coaching, reading about the latest industry news) or outside of work (evening classes, going to networking events, reading a newspaper) can generate valid learning. There aren’t really any restrictions on what can count as CPD – whenever you do something, ask yourself whether you’ve learnt something from it. If the answer is “yes” then put it in your CPD record!
3. Small doses
Tempting as it may be to leave your CPD record to the very end of the programme and hope that nobody notices, try to reflect on your learning regularly: little and often is a good motto here. If you can set aside 15 minutes at the end of each week to sit down on your own and jot down a few lines to summarise what you’ve done and what you’ve learned during the week, your CPD record will grow regularly. Every few weeks, read through your whole record and see if you’ve put anything else into practice since you wrote your entries – you may be surprised to see how much you’ve applied.
Hopefully this will give you a little food for thought but I’d love to know what YOUR tips are for successful CPD records.
For more ideas on why CPD is important and what you can do for yours, check out the video below:
So what are your plans for CPD? What ideas do you have? What do you find works best? Let us know, comment below....