Learning Professionals at all levels are constantly looking at how they can impact their students. Constantly leading the instruction and making sure that when participants leave a session, whether virtual or onsite, they are able to take the skills from that learning event and place them neatly in their toolbox for use on the next organizational project or initiative. Learning Management System administrators busy themselves with making sure data is updated and that the technology is being leveraged effective and efficiently. Instructional designers work tirelessly to create the next mind-blowing courseware. However, where do learning professionals go to learn? What can a learning professional do to retool, renew and restock with knowledge around new trends, techniques and technologies in learning? Where is the learning professionals classroom?
I was thinking about this the other day and decide to compile a short list of ways that learning professionals should and could always be learning. Some of these may seem obvious, but in the day to day madness and rush of work it is easy to forget some of the simpler ways that we can grow and learn ourselves.
1. Twitter Chats
I never thought I’d be such a huge fan of Twitter chats. Professionals from all facets of human resources take to Twitter throughout the week to share best practices, thoughts and to pose questions to each other in real time chats. Chats are designated on Twitter by hashtags. Now before you think I’m speaking a foreign language, hashtags are trends on Twitter designated with the “#” symbol in front. These same trends, or hashtags, may be used to represent a chat as well. An example is #lrnchat This weekly chat takes place on Thursdays from 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM EST and learning professionals of all levels and backgrounds discuss trends and technology as it relates to learning. Another weekly learning chat is #IOLchat which stands for Inside Online Learning. Recent topics include “Online Learning & the Workplace” and “Preparing Students for Online Learning.” This type of chat also brings in the perspective of students or learners who add their perspective to the discussion. There really is a chat for everything, from leadership development to recruitment and talent management. There is a long list of Twitter Chats available on Google Docs.
2. LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are a great resource for learning and development professionals to discuss topics related to the industry. There is no shortage of learning and development groups to chose from. Some of the popular groups include the Learning, Education and Training Professionals Group , elearning Professionals Network. and simply Learning & Development.
You will find active discussions on all of these groups and encouragement from the community to contribute to the ongoing dialogue. Just spend 10 to 15 minutes surfing the discussions on these groups and you are sure to learn about a new product or perspective related to learning and development.
Just as Twitter chats take place daily, weeks are often full of free and paid webinars and virtual sessions on learning technologies and strategy. You can find these webinars by simply doing a Google search or better yet look at the websites of the vendors that make the learning and development tools you use most frequently. You are bound to find that they host webinars to discuss not only their products but data and trends that impact the learning industry.
We also host learning and development webinars frequently. We have a session coming up, “6 Best Practices of Powerful Virtual Learning” on Thursday, February 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM EST. Join us!
4. Conferences & Virtual Events
It is the beginning of the year so now is the time to plan your conference attendance calendar for the year and ask your manager to reserve budget dollars to attend in person and virtual learning events. It goes without saying that these events are chock full of learning for learning professionals, but also the opportunity to meet industry leaders and network. Virtual events are helpful if your travel budget has been slashed. You still get the benefit of the content and also have some interaction thanks to webcams, twitter and chat capabilities housed in some of the virtual event technology. There are various lists of upcoming training and development conferences floating around on blogs and conference directory sites. Search around to find the ones that resonate the most with you. I found what I believe to be the most exhaustive list of learning, elearning, training and development conferences out there!
Elearning! Media Group also has two events this year. Our first is coming up in March. Enterprise Learning! Summit March 20-21, 2012 at the Hilton in Alexandria, VA, Our speakers and panelists will appear in sessions including “Thriving in a Net-Work Era,” “Learning Technology CEO’s Power Panel,” and “Best Practices of the Learning! 100.”
We’ll also be back with the Enterprise Learning! Conference and Expo at the end of the summer.