Practice What You Preach
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We all are in higher education; we encourage prospective students to enroll; we extol the benefits of continuing to learn throughout life; the question is, how well do we practice what we preach?
With a commitment to higher education and with many of us in professional and continuing education, one would think that we all provide for continuing, professional education in our colleges, schools, and departments. In 2018, ours is a highly competitive field that is growing more so every day. It is one that requires us to be vigilant technologists, pedagogic specialists, and futurists. We need to understand the market factors in our field and the changing needs of our students. So, of course, we would make a continuing commitment to professional development. But, it is not always so.
I am often surprised when I visit universities around the country that do not invest in a continuing budget for professional education for employees. There is no substantial recurring annual budget to enable staff and faculty members to engage in formal training and development. Sure, faculty members may have a small annual travel stipend, but mostly that is reserved for presentations at discipline-based scholarly conferences. Aside from one-time opportunities, it is uncommon to find funding for professional education in teaching technologies and pedagogies.
Interestingly, the entrepreneurs and those leading startups know this need very well. Mark Goldin of Cornerstone on-Demand writes in Venture Beat about the need for continuous learning:
By investing time and money into developing a culture of continuous learning, your company will be ahead of the curve. Organically, these investments will result in a mindset among your workers that every individual at the organization – not just the CTO or CIO – needs to be a futurist. In today’s age, with such rapid change, every worker must be an active – not passive – participant and doggedly pursue new knowledge and skills. And when your team has developed new skills, make sure you give them the opportunity to put those skills to work.
When you invest in yourself and your team, you reap benefits that accrue to building success. When you fail to do so, you fall behind in this rapidly evolving field of higher education. The technology is changing so rapidly, and the societal demands for our services are changing as well. Those universities that will thrive in this environment are the ones that understand the changing expectations of higher education and are near the leading edge of technology change to most efficiently meet those changing expectations.
So, how much should you set aside for continuing professional education in your own shop? Eddy Ricci, author of The Growth Game: A Millennial’s Guide to Professional Development, suggests that setting aside 3% of every salary might be a good place to start in assuring adequate professional development:
Neither investments nor professional development are cookie cutter but 3 percent of your gross salary is a good rule-of-thumb for reinvesting in yourself. If you are running your own business or have ambitious goals for your future it would be much more. Three percent should be the baseline for your professional development whether through books, courses, personalized coaching, new experiences or relationship building. To put it into perspective, if you make $50,000 per year, then at least $1,500 per year should be put towards professional development. If you can commit to $125 per month for cable, you should have no issue in committing $125 into yourself.
As believers and leaders in higher education, we must practice what we preach! Invest in yourself and your team, and assure that the level of investment continues – or grows – in coming years.
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
Ray Schroeder Founding Director
Ray Schroeder is Professor Emeritus, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and Senior Fellow, and Founding Director of the National Council for Online Education at UPCEA. Each year, Ray publishes and presents nationally on emerging topics in online and technology-enhanced learning. Ray’s social media publications daily reach more than 12,000 professionals. He is the inaugural recipient of the A. Frank Mayadas Online Leadership Award, recipient of the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award, the United States Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame Award, and the American Journal of Distance Education/University of Wisconsin Wedemeyer Excellence in Distance Education Award 2016.
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