This time last week (01/11/16) I was talking at a PARN event on CPD. There was a great turn out so lots of CPD experts, sharing experiences, challenging each other and discussing a range of topics. Whilst most of the discussion was around the structure and nature of CPD schemes, I bucked the trend a bit and spoke about CPD provision – what should it look like and how do we get professionals to do it.

Putting together the presentation I realised two things, that I thought were worth sharing. The first is how far CPD has come in the last 10 years but, perhaps more importantly, how far it has yet to go.

10 years ago Nelson Croom launched a range of online CPD courses. Our professional body partners sold those courses, branded as their own, and we shared the spoils. The aim was to free people up from having to attend events, when that wasn’t convenient for them.

This was a liberation, initially mainly for people working part time or juggling work and home priorities, but soon all sorts of professionals came to rely on this flexibility.

We believe that there is now a second shift happening, as big as the move from face to face to online CPD.

So what's changed in the last 10 years?

Our expectations have changed...

We all do much more online now than we did then. The generation entering our professions now, and actually those that have been entering for the last 10 years, have grown up online. "Gen Y" or "The Millennials" have been bought up and educated at a time when almost every home in the developed world had an internet connection. They expect to operate online. To shop, to bank, to watch, to play, to discover, to book... and to learn online.

Life is more fast paced than ever...

10 years ago, we talked about how busy we all were. Looking back, we had no idea what was to come. The pace of life now, and in particular the rate of change, has never been greater. Our daily lives are overloaded but rather than stepping back, we use technology to eradicate every 'empty' moment in the day.

Information overload and digital amnesia

Like it or loathe it, we know now that pretty much any piece of information, or the answer to any question, is only a click or swipe away. And whereas we used to rely on a computer to find that piece of data, we now have a machine in our pockets that can do the job for us, making it even more immediate.

Nowadays the percentage of 'stuff' we need to know to do our jobs, has decreased dramatically. We don't need to hold information in our heads any more, we just need to know where to go to find it. And, most importantly, have the critical skills to process that information appropriately when we do find it.

This fundamentally changes what and how professionals need and expect to learn.

10 years ago online CPD offered us the freedom not to have to attend a face to face event at a fixed time. CPD today needs to offer the freedom not even to be tied to our desks.

CPD needs to be available in short and long bursts in any location and on any device. It needs to be personalised to the needs of the professional. Think about how sites like google and amazon adapt to your own preferences and behaviours. Why can't CPD resources do that too?

At Nelson Croom, our vision is to make CPD part of the beat of all our lives. We want to enable professionals to complete valuable CPD, whilst hardly noticing that they have done so. Along with that should come a record of what they have done – whether in terms of inputs or outputs – that has built up over time. So it is there, automatically, when they need it, without them needing to do a whole load of extra work.

The most important part of this is that the content of the learning needs to valuable. It has to empower them in their career, or else why would they bother?

We are beginning to develop resources and tools that can meet the needs of professionals now, but there is much more to come. Please feel free to share your ideas, and if you want to talk more about what we're developing, please don't hesitate to comment or get in touch.