Professional development at your desk
Thursday, 17th May 2012
From six years ago, when the first edition of Robin Neidorf's book on distance education came out, enormous changes have enabled distance learning to become part of our standard professional tool kit. As Robin finishes the details for the second edition of the book, she reflects on the power of the medium to have a positive impact on skill and performance.
Not long before I joined FreePint full time in 2006, I published a book on distance learning: Teach Beyond Your Reach. This instructor’s guide was designed to help topic experts translate their knowledge into effective distance learning offerings and was based on several years’ experience I had as a distance educator, student and curriculum designer in a variety of settings.
At the time, the business world was only starting to move into distance learning. The tools available to support distance learning were still in relatively early-stage development, and were mainly designed for academic settings. Few professionals had positive experiences – or indeed any experiences – with distance learning. And the preferred avenue for getting professional development continued to be live conferences and events.
Six years later
We operate in a very different world today, and the opportunities for distance learning are growing all the time. Consider the following factors that come to bear on professional distance learning today:
- Technology improvements. The technologies supporting distance learning, collaboration and project management are light-years ahead of where they were 6 years ago.
- Comfort level. Most professionals today are far more adept than they were 6 years ago with tools that enable them to collaborate, work and learn at a distance.
- Corporate budgets. In difficult times, the budget for training and professional development is often one of the first sacrifices, particularly for expensive events that involve travel.
- Corporate staffing. Sometimes the most difficult piece of attending a live event isn’t the cost of the registration but rather the human cost of time away from the desk; when staffing levels are low, every hour of work is valuable.
All of these variables have served to increase the viability of web-based learning and virtual classrooms as a solution to support professionals with ongoing development. Distance learning is flexible, fitting into the professional’s busy work schedule.
One of the challenges, though, in a distance environment is that structural flaws that are merely annoying in face-to-face sessions are impossible to deal with at a distance. We’ve all been to workshops or events where a programme marketed as a learning experience turns into a thinly veiled product demo. And too often, speakers ignore the practical aspects of their knowledge, failing to help their learning audience extrapolate from the concepts presented to the real-world improvements they can bring about.
FreePint Webinars offer professionals effective, targeted learning experiences they can access from their desks. The increasing success of this offering, first launched in mid-2011 and now expanded to provide a webinar every month, coincides with the rising interest of large corporations, communities of practice, professional and trade associations in distance learning as a way to improve their stakeholders’ experiences and skills.
FreePint Research develops and offers these sessions in collaboration with corporate sponsors. Sponsorship enables us to provide the sessions at no cost to registrants. However, we work very closely with sponsors to ensure that their sponsorship goals are being met within the context of a practical learning experience for the audience.
Sessions are also archived and made available for a minimum of 6 months following the live event. Recent sessions have included:
- Performing triage on the information flood
- Mobile content evolution in the enterprise
- Influencing your stakeholders
Request free access to the archived versions of these sessions now.
Increasingly, we are consulting with customers on developing their own webinar offerings, providing our expertise in distance course design and development and even leveraging our knowledge resources to support the development of their own courses. And, for associations that are investigating how to expand their in-person educational opportunities to encompass distance offerings, we are also consulting on overall programme design, enhancing in-person events with distance components and successful marketing of distance offerings as a member value.
The new edition of Teach Beyond Your Reach will be published in autumn 2012, with plenty of new ideas for distance education for corporations, associations and communities of practice. Request information on how these ideas can reduce costs and improve outcomes for your organisation’s educational programme needs.
- Run or manage trainings, community of practice or other formal and informal learning for your organisation
- Hold responsibility for professional development for your team, organisation, or entire association
- Have interest in sponsoring FreePint Webinars, to test their impact against live events or exhibitions
- Want to be notified when the new edition of Teach Beyond Your Reach is published (CyberAge Books, 2012)
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