How to Find Professional Development and Continuing Education Courses
Why Professional Development?
Ongoing Professional Development unlocks more of each worker's potential for productive results and happiness in a unique dream job that fits the individual values and skills of the employee. It goes together with continuous improvement, which is expected in most jobs. Further development offers the chance for further improvement.
It can also prepare one to transfer to one's Dream Job, if not already in it. In fact, continuing education can help anyone at any level of employment or retirement.
This begins with a thorough orientation and job training on a new job and is bolstered by additional basic and advanced OJT (on the job training). This development is facilitated further via meetings, workshops and seminars or "in-service" sessions; vocational or college classes on-site at work or at a school, professional organization memberships, professional and business journals and magazines, free classes, online/distance learning, books, community lectures. and other possibilities.
These activities will bring out one's potential as a prism reveals the many colors of light. The result is powerfully beautiful.
A Health and Medical Example
Professionals in the health and medical disciplines, including mental health, are often required to pursue professional development in the form of Continuing Education credits or CME.
Online, Medscape.com offers over 1000 short courses that can add to one's education and training and furnish a certificate of CME. This is one site that I access frequent and always find interesting, useful materials.
Look to your own profession for free online professional development and enjoy those types of opportunities.
Global economy is an increasingly Knowledge-Based Economy.
Knowledge, the New Economic Base
The 21st century is an era of the Knowledge Economy worldwide. The proliferation of information and information technologies (IT) since the public popularity of the Internet began in the 1990s has spread unimaginably fast and far -- CFO (Chief Information Officer) was not a job title in the 1950s!
Information or data is a number one commodity in the world in the 21st century. Careers in almost all fields of endeavor and industry include information technology jobs. For example, the healthcare industry is computerized in many respects, especially patient and employer records. The research alone in medical and health fields require data collection, processing, analysis, interpretation and storage.
The field of criminology and forensics may rely on IT to an even greater extent in its use of DNA evidence and computerized crime investigation techniques. Although glamorized to an extent, the television series CSI, NCIS, Numb3rs and others present the germ of a presentation of IT vitality and necessity in crime investigation. In fact, gaining the release of the wrongfully imprisoned in the 1980s forward is possible with DNA analysis and non-genetic computer modeling available in the 21st century to scrutinize these cases more precisely and in finer detail.
The original proponent of such detail and evidential analysis [The Court of Last Resort, in partnership with Esquire Magazine] was attorney and author Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote about criminal analysis in his crime novels until he died at an advanced age. Information was his business and he told us until his death in 1970 that it should be ours as well. Now it is.
Insurance, Financial Products, Securities, Banking, and Investments
These industries rely on statistics, computerized models, records of data, and other IT functions. These industries are international in their reach and rely one upon another on information gained from the worldwide marketplace and global stock exchanges. International Business replies on Information Technology and data for success as well.
These are but a few examples of the importance attributed and reliance upon data placed by people everywhere on the planet. In fact, data and IT are used in science, and green initiatives to enhance the use and acceptance of renewable energy and other resources worldwide.
Information - knowledge - is everywhere and a foundation of nearly all modern day business as well as the everyday business of individuals in modern society. Global economy is an increasingly Knowledge-Based Economy.
Ongoing Knowledge For All
- World Bank
The Knowledge Economy - suggestions, survey results, latest trends.
- Lifelong Learning, Education for Men and Women over 50.
Recommendations and links for Mid-Career Professionals that can benefit Young Professionals as well.
Life Long Learning is Vital
In a Knowledge Economy where American workers toil for increasing numbers of years into an ever-lengthening lifespan and the age of retirement edges upward, life long learning is mandatory.
One reason that life long learning is vital, is that business is based on Continuous Improvement. In a dramatic change from the mid 20th-century:
1) 21st century businesses set goals not to be met, but surpassed on a consistent and regular basis.
2) Annual pay raises to employees of for-profit companies are no longer automatic - not even cost of living adjustments, in order to be considered for merit raises, employees must (in increasing numbers of businesses) increase and any and all of these behaviors:
- high quality work output - and more of it
- streamlining processes of tasks
- money/cost saving
- time saving
- increases numbers of customers served per month
- increase the "average ticket sales" or the amount spent in each interaction by each customer over last month\g) increase repeat business transaction from current customers
- gain new customers via word-of-mouth referrals directly related to the employee's good customer service
- other, depending on the company.
3) Many for-profit companies close down and/or lay off large numbers of workers. If they cannot improve sales, services, or whatever their product or service may be, they close or downsize. Workers must be ready for this by preparing themselves with ongoing eLearning to stay sharp with new information about their work on a daily basis.
4) As employees lose the ability to improve within one company, they move to another company (a different system). In the 20th century, to change jobs more often than once every two years as considered a hallmark symptom of a personality disorder. That time parameter has been reduced to one year. To remain hire-able, a worker needs to stay up-to-date on new information and techniques in their field in order to be valuable to their own company, and they should remain ready to interview with others.
5) An increasing number of employers expect or require workers to participate in ongoing training - called Professional Development - in formal training sessions, on-the-job training (OJT), classes on the job, workshops, seminars, focus groups, and/or formal classroom education in colleges and business schools. This fact is not confined to business concerns. CEUs - continuing education units - are required by health and medical professions, social service licenses, therapists, and others.
For example, in education, a K-12 teacher in some/many states has 10 years from college graduation to earn a masters degree in education, or is no longer permitted teach. Some colleges have made the education degree program longer and award the M.Ed. at the end of the program, without a terminal bachelors degree.
Survival and Success
All in all, in order to stay employable (or to start and own a business and prosper), people need to take in new information regularly about their jobs and the relationship of their work to the local, national, and global economies.
Workers need a steady stream of good information to succeed - and to survive - in the Knowledge Economy. They need it for work, for health as they become older, and for retirement - recreation, finances, travel, and numerous other retirement aspects, including sometimes going back to work in a second or third career.
The stream of information that these employees or small business owners need is part of Life Long Learning and Ongoing Professional Development.
Don't get fired because you trusted incorrect free education resources and used that wrong information on the job to create BIG MISTAKES. Be objective and shrewd about your choices for education.
Free Classes - Are They for You?
From the respected Georgetown University in their Center for New Designs for learning and scholarship.
"A wiki is a web application that allows users to freely create and edit content using any web browser. A wiki is a common or shared online space that can be changed by anyone..."
Based on the definition alone, wikis cannot be trusted as correct, because anyone can place information in them; if the monitors do not know the correct information, the incorrect information remains. This leads to a Society of Disinformation. Such as society is more easily led and duped into bad decisions than an educated Informed Society.
Therefore, when you read any Answer Site or wiki, look at the RESOURCES, REFERENCES, and BIBLIOGRAPHIES listed at the end of the articles and find out for yourself what is the truth. All of these types of sites are not accredited (see next section). Do not accept or quote from wikis, answer sites, etc. without doing considerable in depth fact-checking.
College students across the nation are failing classes, losing credits, and suffering reduced GPAs because they used incorrect and incomplete information from answer sites, wikis and similar resources.
Our own university newspaper has been under investigation for using information from a large wiki site. Previously, it had been a vital part of our journalism and communications degree program curricula, but Its funding and faculty care has been cut drastically and the paper's value and integrity as a viable practicum training piece is almost 0 -- While wiki-type resources were not the only problem, their use has severely compromised the program. Circulation and production are both down and further decreasing, while another student and community paper (which does more thorough fact checking) has risen to draw away significant levels of readership.
I never quote anything from a wiki; I find out for myself through bibliographies, research databases, and premier search engines that crawl peer-reviewed journals, surveys, and other resources.
All this being outlined, there are indeed some good free educational resources, listed beginning after the next section regarding Accreditation.
It would not do any good to take an online 4-year degree course of study and find out that everything you were taught was incorrect or useless.
Accreditation and How To Find It
Accreditation is important when you look for effective educational programs.
If you want to use a program for ongoing professional development toward pay raises and workplace promotions, then accreditation is vital. This is true for physical schools and online distance learning as well.
Accredited means that the program and/or school was examined by the highest qualified professionals in the related fields and found to be accurate as well as offering viable training to people well enough in the particular subject, topic, or field to produce honest, productive results for the learner.
In other words, it would not do any good to take an online 4-year degree course of study and find out that everything you were taught was incorrect or useless. Accreditation is one means of ensuring against such folly and waste of time and money.
The United States Federal Department of Education oversees and governs academic institutions in America. If you want to know if an online school is legitimate, you can contact them via their website or at their contact information in the Link Box to the right and ask them. They are like a Better Business Bureau of education. In fact, you can also contact the BBB about educational programs and schools to determine if there have been any problems with them.
The USDE does not itself accredit post secondary schools or other educational institutions or programs. The Secretary of Education, who is the head of this federal department, must legally publish a directory of federally recognized agencies to accredit educational programs and institutions that he/she has examined and proved meet federal standards to supply a high quality education or training (E & T) program.
Some accrediting agencies are recognized by the US Department of Education at the link above or here. Others are recognized by a non-governmental, private organization: "The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (actually part of the USDE) at the link in the link box above.
Between these two rosters, hundreds of institutions are recognized as being able to accredit educational institutions and programs from Real Estate to Culinary Arts, to online psychology degrees and many more.
From the American East Coast to the West Coast, six major regional accrediting agencies are:
- NEASC - New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- MSA - Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- NCA - Higher Learning Commission of North Central Region
- SACS - Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- WASC - Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- NASC - Northwest Association of Schools and of Colleges and Universities
In Canada are located at least two good agencies:
- The Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
- Canadian Association for Distance Education (CADE)
Free Distance Learning - How to Change a Tire
Effective Free Classes
Free online classes require self discipline in order to yield good results to the learner. However, they can often be completed according to the student's own pace and schedule. Free classes often do not provide a certificate or a diploma. However, the education is still good and can help you in your career. Keep a record of what you study and complete. Check out the accreditation and/or the credentials of people offering materials at these sites.
- Free And Affordable Courses and Tutorials
- Small Business Administration - Business related classes and information.
- College-based free courses. Many offer Open Course-Ware, wherein class notes and lectures are made available to the public. All these are accredited schools.
This list is not all-inclusive; there are dozens more. Check the accreditation sites' lists of schools for more possibilities or do an Internet search. For example, Borders Book Stores in California offer online and in-store classes. Other large bookstores also offer classes.
Free and low-cost classes are available also at city and county Recreation Centers, Community Centers, Senior Centers, hospitals, clinics, governmental health departments, YMCAs, YWCAs, museums, and other facilities and organizations.
Distance Learning Opportunities
Many courses and some degree programs complete with certificates and diplomas can be accomplished online. Some employers will give workers an hour or two each day to study online at their desks. Employees can also study at lunchtime and at home, at their own pace and time.
Check with your employer through HR, your supervisor, a union steward, or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) staff about your company's policies on paying for, or reimbursing you for, actual college classes. This includes attending the local schools in your area, as well as attending distance learning classes online.
Beware of diploma mills that charge high prices and give you little or no work to do or provide poor education and misinformation. Check accreditation and credentials.
Best Practices in Distance Learning for Credit
Opportunities at Work
Employers should offer a full orientation to new employees, initial job training, and ongoing OJT and other training. This program of ongoing professional development is one topic about which to ask during a Job Interview. As the interviewer asks if you have any qiestions, ask about professional development opportunities. Also ask when standard Employment Reviews will be given. Then, during each review, ask about what professional development opportunities you now quality to attend.
There may be other opportunitites for 1) professioanl development, 2) training, and 3) lifelong learning in your community. Check your local newspapers, announcements at your local library, and public service announcements on radio and TV.
- Distance Learning Information: Everything you need to know about Distance Learning.
- eCulinary Professional Development Institute
- Peterson's Distance Learning & Online Degree Search
- The Professional Development Institute - Real Estate
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS