October 2014

A Professional Development Curriculum...
Do You Have One? 


This month we are publishing the third article in a series by guest author Thom Lowther, Ed.S, Facilitator, Coach and OD Learning Solutions Specialist.  He is the CEO/Chief Learning Officer of Lowther7, LLC - a veteran owned consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia.  This article advances the conversation about your focused long term professional development.  Thom's guidance encourages well defined objectives for developing a curriculum plan to achieve your continuing education goals. 

Let's start by clarifying professional curriculum  IS NOT about obtaining quick topic knowledge, skills or short term learning.  When I mention professional curriculum it is intended as a long term approach to obtaining knowledge and skills with expected outcomes.  Usually I suggest that my clients consider a 3-5 year curriculum plan that is reviewed annually by a supervisor or peer.

As a professional development coach, the first question I ask my client is, "Why?".  Why do you want to engage in professional development?  Among the more common responses I hear:  "I need to complete my CEU requirements."  Usually the individual is referring to a mandatory continuing education (MCE) state license requirement.  They may also need to fulfill CE requirements to earn or maintain a membership or certification -- such as AIA, LEED or CSI.  Others respond they want to stay current within their practice.  The important first question of  "why" helps the individual better understand their own motivating factors behind pursuing professional development.  It also provides direction when considering curriculum content and selecting the appropriate delivery methods. 

The second key question I ask is, "What?".  By answering what you must learn to address why you are pursuing the continuing education, it helps to clarify your curriculum.  Your curriculum should be structured to include the key elements, skills and courses you intend to pursue.  Below is a sample outline of what key elements a professional curriculum might include.  (NOTE:  You can substitute by filling in your profession below where indicated.)

Core Areas:  The general area of focus within the practice of (Fill in your Profession)

Performance Domains:  The key areas of practice in the field of... (Fill in your Profession)....including the specific aspects and activities of professional practice.

Curriculum Proficiencies:  The skills and abilities needed to perform professional service.  What the...(Fill in your Profession)...needs to know to perform successfully within a given area of practice.

While you are considering the elements, skills and courses, also consider your competency level in each.  Will the subject and content be new to you?  Will you be a beginner looking at materials you have not been exposed to?  Or are you a practitioner with some experience in the field of interest  but not yet at the level of expert?  Maybe you are an expert and have mastered the material and now want to compare your knowledge to that of your peers? 

The third key question I ask is, "How?"  How would you prefer to acquire the professional knowledge and skills you are seeking?  The answers help individuals to design and shape their own curriculum plan.  There are a myriad of options available.  Consider those knowledge delivery methods you most enjoy, are practical, and/or affordable.  A few examples range from working with a mentor, a tutor, or on-the-job experience.  You may find taking classes on-site or online usually work best for you.  Or you may enjoy attending special workshops, symposiums and professional conferences. 

Finally, keep a detailed record of your learning activities.  You can prepare a simple spreadsheet if you have time or maybe your firm has a solution for each employee.  However, for more comprehensive documentation, use a service like AECredentialing which provides consistent, current and proven credentials management assistance with timely license and other credentials renewals reminders. 

I generally have my clients develop a year action plan about how they will meet and manage their curriculum plan.  I ask them to update this plan annually.

You have been given a well defined action plan for your professional development curriculum. It's time to concentrate on continuing education and allow AECredentialing to manage and communicate your credentials status....licenses, professional affiliation memberships with an historic repository of continuing education credits.  Just follow this link:  www.AECredentialing.com to secure time saving and cost effective credentials management services. 


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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

Quote By:  Nelson Mandela 

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