Professional Development For Free

Dad was right

My dad was right about professional development. He used to say: “What you learn, nobody can ever take away from you.” I am still grateful for his advice. It resulted in me becoming a life-long learner, always interested in what I can learn next, what will be my next course or study and checking out what’s happening in my industry. I think it’s one of the basic requirements to be working in the L&D space: you need to love learning yourself. Still, I’m quite surprised that learning is not common practice for everyone.

No time, no budget

When asking why people haven’t done any professional development over the last few months, or even years, I hear: “I don’t have a training budget.” Or “I am so busy at work, there is no time for training”. I would call them very bad excuses! Nowadays you can learn and work on your professional development anytime, anywhere and at your own pace. There is so much to learn without spending hours in a classroom or blowing your budget. Just find ways to learn during your daily commute, when you’re on the treadmill or while your family is watching television.

Online learning is your friend

Online learning or elearning has really taken off over the last few years. The result is a plethora of courses and other opportunities to learn for free or at a lower cost. Have you ever thought of using podcasts, MOOCS or free webinars for professional development? If you want to do a bit more or need a certificate, you can look at LinkedIn Learning, that offers a wide range of courses for a few bucks. And there are the usual training providers offering online versions of their face-to-face course for a lower fee.

Free resources for professional development

I would like to share a few ideas where to look for free and online professional development and give you some examples for the L&D space. Here you go:

1. Listen to podcasts

There are plenty of lists with ‘best podcasts’ about L&D. I love the podcast list that the Learning Experts put together. You just need to find the podcast that suits your needs. Don’t forget to listen to Learning Uncut, one of my favourites.

2. Read newsletters

Sign up for newsletters about L&D or your specific area of expertise. They are a good source of information and often announce webinars, contain blogs or industry news that might benefit you. For example, check out www.trainingindustry.com for their free training magazine or subscribe to E-Learning Heroes to see what other elearning developers are creating with Articulate.

3. Watch webinars

Both webinars and virtual classrooms are often free. They’re often announced in newsletters or on LinkedIn. I prefer to watch them life because you can ask questions and interact with other learners, but that doesn’t always work. Fortunately, almost all webinars are recorded, and you will receive the link to the recording afterwards. I’ve watched a few nice elearning webinars from Dashe & ThomsonAllen Interactions and Tim Slade.

4. Follow on LinkedIn

You can start following your industry leaders on Linkedin or use hashtags, like #L&D, #Training, #InstructionalDesign or #Elearning. This is another way of finding webinars, articles or leading figures in your industry. If you would like to connect with people on LinkedIn, do write a personalised invitation so they know why you would like to connect.

5. Watch videos

Videos on YouTube and Vimeo are great for ‘how to’ questions, when you get stuck with software or are looking for an explanation of a certain learning framework or communication model.

6. Sign up for MOOCs

MOOCs is short for Massive Open Online Courses. The best thing about MOOCs is that these courses are free and delivered by specialists in their field, often working at universities. You only pay for a certificate if you would like one. You can find MOOCs via www.mooc.org or www.futurelearn.com. Some Australian universities have their own portal, just google for MOOCs to find out more.

7. Use SlideShare.net

A lot of presentations are shared on SlideShare. Although you miss out on the audio, there is still a lot to learn from reading the presentations. SlideShare has a search function so you can easily find for your favourite L&D expert or a topic.

No more excuses

It’s time for you to continue with your own professional development. There is no need to wait for your manager’s approval or budget. Just pick your favourite way to learn, whether it is listening to podcasts, watching webinars, or reading articles and put a bit of effort in. Happy learning!

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