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The wonderful Diana Ayling wrote this blog post a while back, but I feel it is worth a re-visit as the topic of continuous professional development and learning...and capturing that learning...is still one that is highly relevant. Please enjoy - Hazel :)

“The stepladder is gone, and there is not even an implied structure of an industry’s rope ladder.  It’s more like vines, and you bring your own machete.  You don’t know what you’ll be doing next or whether you’ll work in a private office, or one big ampitheater or out of your house.”  - Peter Drucker: Managing in Times of Great Change. 

In my role as an academic developer I have noticed a couple of key trends over the last five year. Firstly, everyone is busy doing their own thing, and few have time or inclination to develop and support others. Managers have so many conflicting demands that their time for coaching and mentoring is short. They have little time to spend developing their staff, even if this might be the activity that brings the greatest return on investment. (I have some thoughts on what managers need to be learning, but I will leave that to another post).

Secondly, there is so much information, activities and experiences packed into one year, that most employees are wholly overwhelmed and over worked.  I am looking for solutions, that help employees to learn, and that also collate and curate all the information, experiences and activities that take place on daily basis. Employees need processes that manage and record their time and activities so they are aware of what are the most difficulty tasks they have to deal with, what are most frequent, and important. Whatever tools used to manage this process have to be easy to integrate into daily professional life.  

Jane Hart, has just written on a similar theme, and I encourage you to read her post. The Future belongs to those who take charge of their own learning.   

Documenting my work: I have found Evernote by far the best tool to capture activities, experiences and reflections on a day by day basis. I use the clipper tool to clip from the Internet, the notes to jot down ideas, reflections, and experiences, the photo tool to record the moment, and the voice recorder to catch ideas when in the car. I use the tags liberally, to curate my activities, and I keep a notebook called "Day Book". This used to be a feature of all large offices and organisations. A place to record key events of the day, absences, leave, visitors, etc. Through analysis of the Day Book I can see clearly, the most difficult, important and frequent activities I undertake. 

Reviewing my learning: To curate my own learning, I use a posterous site, as a portfolio. You can see the showcase version here.  Behind the public face is a much messier developmental space.  It is a private space holding all my great ideas that have yet to see the light of day, half finished projects, reflections, articles and activities I have been involved in. This portfolio demonstrates my achievements and my learning. It clearly shows what I can do, and it integrates with other places where my professional self can be found, LinkedIn, Twitter, and my own website.  You can hear more about me and my portfolio in the Slideshare presentation below. It only takes five minutes to find out how our manage and control my online presence. 

Both of these tools fit easily into my daily life. I have Evernote on my phone, so I can add thoughts, and reminders while sitting waiting at the dentist or in a cafe. Nothing is wasted or lost. At performance review time, I can look back on a last year, and pull out my key activities and achievements. When looking for another position, I have my key skills at my finger tips. 

I am interested to hear, how others curate their own learning, and keep track of their work. So please do share. And if you are interested in what managers need to be learning, I am working on that post next!

Related Reading:

The Post-Capitalist Executive: An Interview with Peter F. Drucker

“Topgrading”: it’s possible to be talented AND be an effective team...

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Comment by Pascale Hyboud-Peron on December 5, 2012 at 10:44

"You know what other people have planned for you? Not very much!" I love it and totally adhere to it! Hence the "Why" indeed! I am an eportfolio convert, and I am always seeking convincing statements which help converting others to see the "Why". And I ll also add to my collection "an eportfolio for anyone who wants to learn, grow and change". Teachers I work with usually feel accountable but not necessarily to themselves first and foremost. This is a crucial for buy in.

Comment by Diana Ayling on December 5, 2012 at 10:09

Thank you for your comments Pascale. I am very interested in "Why" to start an eportfolio. I think the answer is to "Take charge of your own learning". A few years ago, I was running a workshop for students about to go out into a work placement in industry. My able assistant Tanya Gardner, was enthusing the students into setting a couple of personal learning goals to achieve while on placement. She started with a very simple line that has stayed with me ever since. "You know what other people have planned for you? Not very much!"  And that is so true. If you rely on others to plan your learning, your promotion or your career, not much will happen. It is vital to take charge, set your own goals, and hold yourself accountable by setting your own performance criteria, and reflecting on your own performance. 

A portfolio, is the place to set the goals, the performance criteria and to keep those so insightful reflections. I thoroughly recommend an eportfolio for anyone who wants to learn, grow and change. 

I am working on, What managers need to be learning. In my role, I have a unique opportunity to observe what works and doesn't with team and personal performance. 

Comment by Pascale Hyboud-Peron on December 5, 2012 at 9:27

Thank you Diana for your post. I jumped to read it upon seeing the #eportfolios on @howen tweet. You outline the process of collecting, selecting, reflecting and connecting really clearly. And that you clearly state how you differentiate  what is shared and what you keep private is also reassuring for people starting out building an online presence. You have obviously gathered evidence over a period of time and thus can organise it with purpose, you recognize learning moments and have the harnessed tool capability to help you capture them. Starting up aggregating what one does within an eportfolio, what for and who for, can be daunting. That they have indeed many artifacts to include in this curation process is the first step to be acknowledged by new comers to the eportfolio. That these artifacts, combined with interactions, provide evidence on which to reflect is another step.
People buy in "Why you do something" rather that in "What you do"
If this is put in the context of school teachers in NZ , this inquiry model can be the "Why" to start an eportfolio.
I look forward to reading your thoughts on what managers need to be learning, as if I refer to Helen Timperley's work above, there is much to be done by leaders to shape an environment which is conducive to empower all to take charge of their learning.

Comment by Hazel Owen on December 5, 2012 at 9:20

Thanks for raising some essential points, Diana, and for sharing your own experiences and strategies. Something that came through for me was a shift from organisation-led 'formal' PD, to a way more self-directed approach where we need to take far more responsibility for our ongoing learning and upskilling. Although an organisation's appraisal process is likely to help frame up some of our goals and ways of evaluating if we achieved them, the process may not provide the guidance...or structure...needed to really reflect and evaluate our own performance throughout the year. The tools and approaches you mention here would be great for that, and for, as you say shifts in position and applications for promotion.

Very much looking forward to reading your post about what managers should be learning :-p

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