Finding Time for Professional Development
For many professions, one requirement of continued practice and state licensure is to complete a certain number of professional development hours either each year or in each licensure renewal cycle. However, with a full time job and family responsibilities, finding extra time to take continuing education coursework is difficult at best. Many colleges, universities, and continuing education organizations have started to address the unique needs of learners with full time jobs by offering required professional development courses in formats other than sitting in a classroom for several hours.
Online courses – Many busy professionals have found that the internet and online courses are a convenient and practical way to earn professional development without missing work or being stuck in a classroom. A number of colleges, universities, and professional development organizations are now offering many different classes online that are available for professional development in several fields. Online learning isn’t for everyone; however it is a good option for people who are disciplined and able to process information on their own and work independently.
Weekend seminars and professional conventions – Weekend seminars and professional conventions do require a time commitment; however, they are a great way not only to earn professional development credits but also to network with other professionals in your field. Most seminars and conventions offer professional development and college credits for a fee; however, it is beneficial for many people to get all their continuing education completed at one time, in one place. National conventions, due to their size and resources, are able to draw leaders in their fields and afford attendees opportunities to learn from innovators and top practitioners. The opportunity to network with other professionals in a relaxed, non-work environment where people are able to talk for extended periods of time in order to share best practices and solutions that have been successful in other places.
Video classes – Distance learning is becoming a huge part of today’s education environment. However, many people think distance learning is only learning online. They forget that courses can also be offered via video, either pre-recorded or broadcast. These courses, while not as interactive as other delivery methods, allow learners to watch them at their convenience and complete any assessments of culminating activities when they are able to do so. Some people feel video classes are the most convenient of all delivery methods as learners are in complete control as to when they take the course and when they complete their assessment.
Book studies – Whether completed as a part of a group of independently, book studies can be a flexible way to complete professional development for those fields where published research is readily available. Before choosing this option, it is a good idea to check with the licensure board in order to know what verification documentation is required for the experience to count as professional development. It is suggested that, when doing book study, the book is current and is about a new piece of research or a new technique in the field. Working with a group on a book study allows the participants to discuss the material and help each other to gain a better understanding of any confusing or difficult concepts.
Professional development is necessary in order to stay current on new research or changed in certain fields. However, finding time for continuing education is difficult for students who have a full-time job and a family. By looking at alternative methods of receiving continuing education coursework, professionals will be able to find courses that meet their needs for professional development yet also allow them to take care of their other responsibilities.