Supporting Professional Development for Remote Employees

By October 7, 2020 No Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of organizations to rethink how they handle training and development. However, the increased usage of technology in order to support remote work environments began long before terms like “social distancing” due to the flexibility and convenience it provides for learners. Today, many leaders are asking how they can more effectively support remote professional development in today’s current workplace conditions.

What Is Professional Development?

Professional development is a type of learning focused on helping team members acquire skills, knowledge and abilities that will help them excel in their current positions and beyond. Historically, professional development was used specifically to refer to the learning necessary to earn or maintain professional credentials. However, today it is often used more broadly to refer to the idea behind those credentials: learning to be a more effective professional.

Perhaps the most important characteristic of professional development is that it is strategically focused. It often deals with learning that will be relevant beyond the here and now. Exactly what this means depends on the organization.

For educators, it may involve learning about a specialized teaching technique or earning a certification in an educational program. For professionals, it may include coursework around improving interpersonal skills or building better business plans. The content can be relevant to the learner’s current training needs but can also be relevant long-term and applicable in various instances.

How Is Professional Development Different From Training and Onboarding?

People often group professional development with training and onboarding processes. In many ways, these functions can look very similar. However, the skills and topics learned through professional development are often more advanced and far-reaching than in initial employee training.

As mentioned above, professional development has a strategic focus. Conversely, training and onboarding have operational focuses. While training and onboarding typically supports job-specific skillsets and subject matter knowledge, professional development focuses more on the encompassing skills that help professionals better perform within their role and can prepare them for more advanced positions within the company. Overall, the goal of both training and professional development is to teach the learner how to do his or her job well. Training and onboarding play important roles in every organization. After all, you can’t have a team of people who don’t know the processes and expectations of the organization.

Why Develop Remote Capacity for Professional Development?

Crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate online learning. However, the benefits of remote education are significant and valuable at any time.

As organizational structures shift and adjust in order to meet the evolving needs of team members, it’s crucial to keep professional development at the forefront. New processes might emerge and approaches to certain initiatives might change and it’s important every member of your team is aware and well-equipped for these instances. With flexible professional development, you can continue to engage with your team and help them feel supported in their career advancement, both in person and in a remote setting.

These are a few of the reasons to consider developing your remote learning capacity:

  • Team members can engage with learning opportunities on their own time and at their own pace.
  • Learning becomes more accessible as learners can participate regardless of their geographic location.
  • It enhances personal accountability and empowers employees with a sense of control over their personal and professional development.
  • People engage longer with content and retain information better because they are in the driver’s seat of their own learning.

How Can a Learning Management System Support Professional Development?

Learning management systems (LMS) are central elements of most remote learning solutions. They can be very helpful for online professional development because they provide organizations with tools to deliver, organize and monitor learning content. These are a few ways that an LMS can enhance your online professional development program:

  • Personalization: The lecture-then-exam approaches to learning are continuing to prove themselves ineffective long-term. Offer team members more personalized content through the flexibility of an LMS. This can be as simple as layering an LXP on top of your LMS that can help curate relevant course content and provide users with a Netflix-like experience when it comes to training and professional development content. This personalization can also help learners delve deeper into topics that interest them most or that they need the most help with.
  • Cost-Efficiency: In many cases, delivering content through an LMS is more cost-effective than other delivery methods. Learning management systems don’t require live instructors and you can often buy eLearning content instead of creating it yourself. Furthermore, open-source learning platforms in particular allow you to configure your training program to reflect the exact needs of your organization typically at a lower price point than alternative solutions as the primary cost for this type of platform is related to service and hosting.
  • Analytics: If you want to achieve the best learning outcomes, you need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your current learning program. The right LMS should include insightful analytics and data on learner behavior and course interaction. This information allows your learning managers to continuously refine courses as needed to increase engagement and more quickly identify potential areas of improvement.

Learning management systems aren’t just for helping your employees develop their professional skills. You can also use it to support company culture by providing employees with opportunities to network, collaborate, and learn from one another. Using your learning management system to support company culture becomes even more important when teams are remote. From an organizational perspective, using an LMS is a win-win.

How Can eThink Support Your Goals?

If you want to make the most of your remote professional development efforts, you will need the right learning management system with experts that can support and leverage it to its fullest extent. eThink helps organizations implement Moodle™, Moodle™ Workplace, and Totara Learn, the leading open-source learning management systems in the world.

Getting your implementation right can be the difference between whether your remote learning project is successful or not. Let eThink help your organization succeed by lending our implementation and long-term support expertise. Our fully-managed approach to eLearning will help you to empower both your instructors to provide effective and engaging professional development and your learners to learn better online. Contact us to learn more or request an individual demonstration below.

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