Last month I wrote about Staying Current: Why It’s important. This time around, I want to touch on HOW to stay current.
Blogs: One of the best ways to stay current in your field is subscribing to blogs related to your field. This will give you a vast variety of different changes, viewpoints and ideas of what’s coming next. Maybe someone is doing something different than you and you like their approach to it. Or maybe you have been attempting something and you just can’t figure it out, only to find out someone has mastered it and has written out everything you need to know on their blog. Blogs are useful for so many reasons and there are so many great ones available to you. A lot of authors will request feedback from you, whether it be questions or comments. This is a great tool to help you better understand a tool or process you may not understand and you now have a great resource at your fingertips. To find blogs to read and follow you can do a simple google search and weed out the ones you don’t find useful, or even ask others in your field if they have any blogs they follow. There are thousands of blogs out there, so you just have to find the right ones for you!
Networking: Networking is huge! No matter where you live or what you do, networking is one sure way to stay in touch within your field. You can network on Linkedin, but just be aware of those people you are adding that may be in your field but you don’t actually know them. Sometimes these connections can become an excellent resource, but it is still important to stay cautious of adding users you don’t know like with any form of social media. Networking at conferences however can lead to a whole new level of connections. Maybe you sit down at lunch and meet someone who is doing new, innovative things with eLearning modules that you are fascinated by. Keeping in contact with this person would be in your best interest so you can use them as a resource and learn from them! With networking though, it’s never a bad thing to network with those outside of your field. You can learn so many things from just chatting with others, you can bring new knowledge back to the office and utilize in your own work.
Conferences: As previously mentioned, conferences are a great place to network, but that’s not the only benefit from conferences. The Learning and Professional Development team heads to Dev Learn every year and it is a great place to learn what’s going on in the eLearning industry. Like many conferences there are a ton of different sessions on several different topics you can attend at Dev Learn. Something I like to keep in mind when attending different sessions at a conference is if you find yourself 100% not engaged or interested in what is happening in the first few minutes of the session, politely (and quietly!) leave the session and move on to another one that would better suit your needs and interests. Don’t just leave and sit in the hallway waiting for the next round of sessions to begin, make sure you find another session to attend. You are there to learn and bring information back to your office to better your work, so make sure you make every minute and session worth it.
Professional Development Classes: Working at a University I am fortunate to be able to attend different professional development classes throughout the year. While sometimes these classes may not directly impact your line of work they are still a huge benefit to your career and your own personal success. For example, I have taken many professional development classes at Northern Arizona University that include but are not limited to: Emerging Leaders, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, SafeJacks (a suicide prevention class), Recognition and Engagement as well as many more. While some of these classes fall into my line of work and others don’t, learning about these different topics will come in handy as I continue to work at the university and become a leader in my field. So even if the professional development class offered does not pertain directly to your field it can benefit you overall and you should take advantage of the offered classes.
Lynda: Lynda.com is an excellent way to stay up to date on so many things ranging from software, programs, management and so much more. Lynda.com offeres a variety of videos on several different topics to not only help you learn new things in your own field, but broaden your knowledge in other areas as well. The different courses offered on this website allow you to follow along with exercises so you can get a hands on approach. There are videos available for everyone, beginners, intermediate and advanced users, it’s a beneficial tool for everyone!
Staying current in your field is a must and shouldn’t be that difficult of a task. You just have to put in the time and effort and you will soon be finding the right resources that work best with you and your learning style.
How do you stay current in your field? Let us know in the comments below!