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Post-Secondary Planning

Three Tips to Consider Before Investing in Your Professional Development

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Mary-Eleanor Power_The Canadian Association for University Continui

Mary-Eleanor Power

Director, Marketing & Communications, Faculty of Open Learning & Career Development, Dalhousie University

Udeni Amit_The Canadian Association for University Continuing Education

Udeni Amit

Director, Technologies, Operations & Communications Programs, Faculty of Open Learning & Career Development, Dalhousie University

As a lifelong learner, you have endless online and in-person options for professional development. So how do you choose the best option? Consider these tips to help you take the next step in your lifelong learning journey.

Tip #1: Think About How Much Time You Can Commit to Professional Development Each Week and Choose the Format That Works for You

By now, almost everyone is familiar with the benefits of online learning being flexible, accessible, and convenient. Most of us have had some experience with this delivery format over the past two years. You can learn from anywhere with an internet connection. No transit is required. No hunt for parking is required. You can start at any time if it’s an entirely self-paced course. If it’s online and synchronous, there is an instructor teaching at scheduled times. When it comes to how you want to engage in lifelong learning, the choice is yours. 

Tip #2: Determine How You Want Your Learning to be Recognized

The member institutions of the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE) offer different kinds of credentials that can be earned through their courses. One kind of credential many people are discussing more and more is micro-credential. According to Dr. Dianne Tyers, Dean of the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development at Dalhousie University, “micro-credentials are rewarded as digital badges to learners who, as part of their professional development, can demonstrate they have learned specific competencies or gained skills valued by employers.” 

With micro-credentials, micro is key. “Mirco-credentials provide the shorter learning opportunities that learners — and employers — want and need,” says Dr. Christie Schultz, this year’s CAUCE President and Dean of the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Regina.

While micro-credentials are one way you can demonstrate to your employer or yourself that you have learned a new skill or competency, there are other ways your learning can be recognized. Some institutions offer learning experiences that lead to certificates or diplomas, while others prepare you to take a certifying exam that offers an accreditation. You need to decide how you want your new learning to be validated. 

Tip #3: Budget For Your Professional Development

Sometimes the learning you’re looking for has a higher price tag, so it’s important to balance your decision-making about professional development with your budget. For example, if you’re looking to have your professional development paid for by your employer, plan to have that conversation as part of your performance review. Plan this conversation ahead of time to highlight how your professional development interests align with your current job. Or, if you’re looking to invest in your professional development, options are available that help you complete certificates faster and at a lower cost, like Recognition of Prior Learning (also known as PLAR). No matter how you choose to budget for your professional development, make sure you factor in its value in helping you advance in your career.

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