Informal Continuous Professional Development can be any form of informal learning or development of your day to day working skills. It can be achieved through self-study and/or informal training. CPD is about capturing useful experiences and assessing the practical benefits of what you have learned. In a work setting, learning occurs as part of the job. Team leaders and Managers play an important role in providing "on-the-job" training. Informal learning can occur through media such as newsletters, magazines, journals and books, for example, or a fellow employee may show another staff member how to complete a specific task. Learning from colleagues on the job, reading, reflecting on one’s own work, and activities undertaken outside work which feed back into work all count towards Informal CPD.
Below is a list of some of the possible resources that can be used towards gaining Informal Continuous Professional Development. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and is intended to act as a guideline only.
It is accepted that general reading of online or paper based trade publications, manuals, professional briefs or journals relating to your professional role is important. Reading, researching information via the internet, reviewing books or articles for professional purposes all count towards Informal CPD.
Here are a few of the most popular industry publications and relevant Business publications:
Construction - is the official bi-monthly magazine of the Construction Industry Federation, covering news, topical issues, member activities, economic trends, new products and developments covering all sectors of the industry (1 Informal CPD point per edition).
Irish Building Magazine - makes essential reading for members of the Construction Industry Federation, Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.
The Irish Construction Industry – This is an online interactive journal which has article on Industry news as well as a resource page and advertising.
Harvard Business Review - is a general management magazine published by Harvard Business Publishing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvard University. HBR's articles cover a wide range of topics that are relevant to different industries, management functions, and geographic locations. These focus on such areas as leadership, organizational change, negotiation, strategy, operations, marketing, finance, and managing people.
Business & Finance - Business & Finance is Ireland’s leading business magazine, offering insightful news, comment and analysis to and about the Irish and international business community.
EngineersJournal.ie - The Engineers Journal has been providing readers with the latest news and views from the engineering and technology sectors in Ireland and internationally.
Architecture Ireland - Architecture Ireland is the official journal of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland. The journal is read by a wide range of built environment professionals as well as decision makers in government departments and local authorities.
TED Talks – TED Talks are videos that present a great idea in 18 minutes or less. They’re filmed at flagship TED conferences, independent TEDx events, and other special TED programs. Their goal is to share Ideas worth Spreading — in fields like science, technology, business, culture, art and design — around the world. There is a dedicated YouTube channel or you can view the talks through the official site.
RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) as a global hub, by enabling millions of people to access the most creative ideas, by nurturing networks of innovators, and through researching, testing and sharing practical interventions. There are videos and article that deal with Architecture & Built Environment.
David Moloney's videos show how civil projects are constructed – from airports, seaports, motorways and railways to oil and gas pipelines, metros, in-situ piles, bridge construction, post-tensioning, precast yards, quarries and more.
CPWR – The Centre for Construction Research & Training have a selection of videos which are dedicated to reducing occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the construction industry.
Project Management Videos - Learn how to manage projects by watching these free Project Management Training Videos, each week.
Self-Directed and Informal Learning
Self-Directed Learning is any increase in knowledge, skill or performance pursued by any individual for personal reasons employing any means, in any place, at any time. Informal Learning and Development within your company or organisation, for example interactive and participative discussions with internal experts on specific technical topics, can count towards your Informal CPD hours.
Informal teaching/training for others, such as facilitating a discussion session at a seminar or conference, or feeding information back to peers, boards or committees are all ways that you can develop yourself and your colleagues. Delivering a presentation on a technical subject that you are already an expert in, and little or no research or preparation has been required, can be a great way to transfer knowledge.
Self-Directed & Informal learning activities can include, but are not limited to:
- Identifying areas for improvement in your current role and seeking a coach to assist in development of skills. Keep a log of the skills exercised and take responsibility for own learning and development activities.
- Investigate suitable training courses or educational opportunities and agree suitability with your Line Manager/Employer.
- Undertake professional learning in Coaching and Mentoring skills and put the skills to use by helping a new starter in your Organisation or by making yourself available as a mentor to a more junior member of staff.
- Produce a succession plan for your job. Ensure that any successors have the required skills and performance strategies that are required for the role.
- Take a class outside of work or a distance learning programme in an area that is completely different or new to you. Complete the course and follow up by identifying opportunities to apply the new skill or technique in your workplace.
- Teach something to others that you don’t know well. Push yourself to learn quickly so you can successfully complete and accomplish the task.
- Personal study projects that combine reading, consulting with others and coming to some conclusions; these projects typically result in the preparation of a paper or presentation.
- Reading and/or viewing materials that expand your understanding of library and/or workplace issues, e.g. TED talks, books, articles or websites on leadership, teamwork, creativity and innovation, motivation, conflict resolution, etc.
Non Accredited Distance Learning
Individual Home Study – This can be any alternative form of learning where there is no interaction with other individuals and no assessment is provided. IT Sligo have an Introduction to Lean Sigma Quality (Free MOOC) which will be running in or around October 2015. For further information please visit the site page.
The Open University – The Open University offer access to free content. All you need is an internet connection. There are a huge selection of courses, videos and free training available through the website.
Saylor Academy’s - Established in 1999 by Michael Saylor, his self-named website takes advantage of technology to provide free education for learners all around the globe. Its open courses are perfect for self-directed learners. You can browse through the lessons at your own pace. Saylor has a total of 283 courses, all of which are drafted by experienced professors. The Saylor library includes resources for Business Administration, Communications, Computer Science, Economics, Mechanical Engineering, among many others.
Big Think is an online resource that promotes the best thinking practices, so an individual can sift through the wealth of information available in the World Wide Web. The website features more than 12,000 videos from industry experts and literature from expert bloggers, all of which are organized under different categories, for example, Inventing the Future, Power and Influence, Business and Technology. The website’s pride and glory is the Big Think Edge – which consists of engaging courses that pave the way for professional development and career mentorship.
Listening to podcasts or watching general video content related to your field qualifies for Informal CPD points. They are a great way of learning on the go. There are a huge selection of topics available. Here are a few examples of websites that you can access. Most of the content is free to access.
iTunes - iTunes U is a vast learning resource offering free educational content that users can download from Apple's iTunes Store straight to their computer or mobile devices. There are interesting podcasts to choose from. For example The Construction Industry Podcast which presents interviews, tips, trends, and other content relevant to businesses and professionals in the construction sector.
Learn Out Loud – This website offers audio & video learning on the Internet through the mediums of audio book downloads, podcasts, YouTube, free colleges courses, and many other great resources.
eCorner - Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner
NOVA - NOVA is the highest rated science series on television and the most watched documentary series on public television. Offered by PBS, the popular TV program also offers podcasts on a variety of technology and engineering topics.
Personal Activities Outside of Work
You may also wish to take advantage of the many learning opportunities that are available outside work time that will help you to explore interests and develop skills. An example would be to volunteer as a part time member of a project outside of your area. You can put your skills to use by getting involved in restoration projects etc. One such organisation that has useful information about volunteering is Volunteer Ireland. Volunteer work can not only be fulfilling but, depending on what you do, it can also sharpen your career skills.
Networking – Networking involves building and maintaining contacts and relationships with other people. The personal networks which you accumulate over time, both socially and professionally can be an invaluable resource. Make the most of your networking events; they are good opportunities to expand your network and learn from the experts, so introduce yourself and engage in conversation. Stay updated about news and issues relevant to your industry and have opinions. Remember that first impressions can last, so be courteous when sharing your perspective.