Personal Learning Plan

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This Personal Learning Plan document is a valuable tool which provides a systematic approach to identify and address an employee's professional development needs. The document provides information and guidance for an employee to draw up a personal learning plan. This process will enable the employee to identify and prioritize his or her learning needs and then devise a plan to address them. Any company or employer can use this tool as a team building exercise and to promote the professional development of its employees.

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									This Personal Learning Plan document is a valuable tool which provides a systematic
approach to identify and address an employee's professional development needs. The
document provides information and guidance for an employee to draw up a personal
learning plan. This process will enable the employee to identify and prioritize his or her
learning needs and then devise a plan to address them. Any company or employer can
use this tool as a team building exercise and to promote the professional development
of its employees.
  <Company Name>
Personal Learning Plan
- <Employee Name> -
                                                                                Personal Learning Plan


                                            Document Control

A. Authors
                Name                                         Input              Organization




B. Review
                       Reviewed By                                          Title




C. Change History
 Version         Section(s) Revised                           Revision(s)       Revised By     Date
    0.1        Document created             Initial draft.




D. Contact Information
Please direct all questions related to this document to <Name> at:


Email: <Email address>
Phone: <Phone Number>




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                                             Table of Contents

USING THIS GUIDE ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5

PERSONAL LEARNING PLAN ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 6

1    IDENTIFY PERSONAL LEARNING NEEDS------------------------------------------------------------ 7

2    SETTING LEARNING OBJECTIVES -------------------------------------------------------------------- 9

3    SPECIFYING LEARNING NEEDS -------------------------------------------------------------------- 10

4    SHOWING ACHIEVEMENT OF OBJECTIVES ------------------------------------------------------ 11

5    VALIDATING ACHIEVEMENTS --------------------------------------------------------------------- 11

6    REVIEW PLAN WITH OTHERS---------------------------------------------------------------------- 12

7    CARRY OUT PLAN ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12

8    EVALUATION ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13

PERSONAL LEARNING PLAN – TEMPLATE------------------------------------------------------------- 14




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Using this Guide

Read through the entire Guide to get an overview of what comprises a Personal Learning Plan and what
it entails.

Return to the beginning and work through the sections as described.

Reminder – you do not have to do this alone.



Budgetary constraints may limit, to some extent, the amount of external educational activity
undertaken. However, some of the most concrete learning arises out of real-life situations rather than
attending training classes, conferences, etc.




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Personal Learning Plan

What is a Learning Plan?

A Personal Learning Plan is a valuable tool which provides a systematic approach to identify and address
your professional development needs. This contrasts to the more usual ad-hoc approach to learning we
may employ (for example, attending a conference which sounds interesting). Through the process of
drawing up a Personal Learning Plan, you will identify and prioritize your learning needs and then devise
a plan to address them.



Objectives

        To support continuing professional development through the introduction of a structured and
         systematic approach to learning
        To identify the learning needs of each individual team member
        To explore common learning needs and how they might be addressed
        To promote the concept of multi-disciplinary learning



How do I write my plan?

    1.   Identify your learning needs
    2.   Specify learning objectives for your prioritized learning needs
    3.   Specify the learning resources, opportunities and strategies you will use
    4.   Specify what evidence you will have for having accomplished these objectives
    5.   Specify how the evidence will be validated
    6.   Review your plan with others
    7.   Carry out the plan
    8.   Evaluate what you have learned

    These 8 steps are described more fully on the following pages.




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1 Identify Personal Learning Needs

Identifying your professional learning needs is the first step in developing a learning plan. However, it
may be difficult to make a truly objective assessment of your personal learning needs as there is a
tendency, for most of us, to choose an educational subject or activity within our comfort zone. In other
words, we may identify a subject, topic or activity for study, regardless of its priority as a learning need
because:

        We are sufficiently familiar with it to not feel too uncomfortable looking at our own possible
         shortcoming in this area; and/or
        We anticipate that it will not involve the use of teaching/learning methods we might find too
         personally challenging; and/or
        It is of personal interest, rather than reflecting a professional or organizational need.



Make an assessment of the gaps between your current capabilities and specified
competencies/capabilities, or other performance standards. You should be able to specify learning
needs for each of the four domains below.



Duties of current position                                      Keeping up-to-date on professional knowledge
                                                                and skills




Planned or directed change in role                              Topics of personal interest




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Identifying your learning needs requires an honest self-assessment and a willingness to explore your real
learning needs rather than personal preferences.

Try some of the following:

        Compare your practice/knowledge against specified competencies for the job
        Have a discussion with peers/colleagues (to identify common learning needs and to find out
         some of the things you don’t know that you don’t know)
        Record critical incidents (i.e. called upon to do X, yet no skills related to X)



Prioritizing your learning needs:

By now, you will have produced a list of exciting learning needs! However, you cannot do everything at
once and, as with all “wish lists”, you have to prioritize what you are going to do.

        Make a critical evaluation of your needs in relation to the four domains above.
        Choose your priorities for the next 12 months and put others on a list to consider once these
         initial priorities have been addressed
        Beware of prioritizing too many things that fall into the “topics of personal interest” box (for the
         reasons already stated)
        Beware of prioritizing too many things; your priorities should be just that – priority (things you
         wish to achieve)




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2 Setting Learning Objectives

Having prioritized your learning needs, you will now have to set objectives to meet these needs.
Objectives may fall into one of three categories:

        Knowledge
        Skills
        Attitudes

Your objectives will not be static and will tend to evolve. As a result, you need to revisit your learning
plan periodically to ensure that the objectives you originally set are still valid. This does not mean that
you should abandon them without good reason.

Your objectives should be a clear statement of what you will be able to do once they are achieved.
Write your objectives in a way that indicates some action required:

“I will be able to …”

        Describe
        Evaluate
        Identify
        Analyze
        Demonstrate

Avoid using passive words or broad terms like “understand”, as it is difficult to show that you have
achieved these kinds of objectives.

Ex. “To be able to demonstrate how to extract a Pie Chart from an Excel spreadsheet”
                 rather than
    “To understand how to extract a Pie Chart from an Excel spreadsheet”



Don’t set yourself up to fail – Use the “SMARTER” approach when thinking about setting your
objectives.
Specific             Be specific. Sub-divide objectives to get clarity, if necessary.
Measurable           Use active words to describe the objectives. Includes measures (quantity, quality,
                     output).
Achievable           Don’t set wildly over-ambitious objectives.
Relevant             Make sure the objectives address your identified needs.
Time-Bound           Set yourself target dates for your objectives.


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Exciting                 You need to want to achieve these objectives.
Recorded                 Write them down accurately for future reference/review


3 Specifying Learning Needs

Now that you have your learning objectives/development needs, you now need to specify how you are
going to achieve them. You should identify what learning resources and learning opportunities you
require for each objective.

When faced with a learning need, most often our first thought is: “I need to learn Spanish – when’s the
next course?” We are probably all aware that what we “learn” at courses is usually quickly forgotten
unless it is incorporated into our lives at work. Therefore, be creative!

Think laterally about how your learning needs might be met. For example:

                                                        On-the-job
                  Unplanned                                                          Planned
Impromptu learning at work                                      Making and taking learning opportunities
    Observation                                                    One-off courses
    Listening                                                      Lectures
    Conversation                                                   Audit meetings
                                                                    Clubs
                                                                    Peer group learning
                                                                    Cross-departmental learning sessions

                                                        Off-the-job
                   Unplanned                                                         Planned
Learning at home and socially                                   Structured learning experiences
                                                                     External courses
                                                                     Conferences
                                                                     Distance learning
                                                                     Evening classes


If you identify a professional learning need, it is very likely that there will be other people with the same
need (in your group). Take the opportunity to make this a learning opportunity for all by suggesting, for
example, a shared topic-specific learning session.

Use the following resources:

Books, journals                      Conferences                       Libraries
Lectures                             Seminars (live or web)            Electronic media


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Colleagues                           Audits                            Courses
Professional Associations


4 Showing Achievement of Objectives

Here you have to decide what evidence you will have to show that you have achieved what you set out
to do in your learning plan. The evidence you provide will depend on the nature of your objectives.
Examples might include:

        A piece of work demonstrating the new knowledge or skills you have achieved
        Evidence of success on a course which itself has specified learning outcomes
        An essay or other written piece of work
        Training materials you have produced
        Project work
        An audit
        Implementation of something you have been working on, showing use of the knowledge or skills
         learned
        A portfolio of work




5 Validating Achievements

This step is included here for completeness, although validation may not be obtainable for all objectives.
For certain pieces of work, there may automatically be a response, such as feedback on the content,
readability or presentation of a report you produce using your new skills or knowledge. In other
instances, there may not be this kind of built-in opportunity for feedback on how well you achieved your
objectives, unless you make specific arrangements for this to happen; for example:
        Asking a colleagues who you feel you can trust and whose opinion you value for their comments
        Co-mentoring, agreeing with someone to mutually assist each other in the process
        Peer group arrangement


Failing that, you will have to be honest with yourself as to how well you have achieved your objectives.
Unmet or poorly-met objectives will require you to either make in-year adjustments, or to revisit them
in your Personal Learning Plan.




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6 Review Plan with Others

Well done, you have completed your plan! You’re nearly there.

At this stage, it is worth asking one or more people to review it and give their comments and
suggestions. This should be your Learning Partner and/or your Manager.

The questions for which you would like answers include:

           Are the learning objectives clear, understandable and realistic? Do they describe what you
            propose to learn?
           Can they think of other objectives you might consider?
           Do the learning strategies/resources seem reasonable, appropriate and efficient?
           Can they think of other resources you might consider?
           Are the criteria and means for validating the evidence clear, relevant and convincing?
           Can they think of other ways to validate the evidence that you might consider?




7 Carry out Plan

At last!!

Remember that you may want/need to adjust your objectives as you work through your learning plan.




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8 Evaluation

Has your learning plan been useful? At the end of the learning period, it will be worth reviewing the
outcomes from your learning plan, firstly to see if you have achieved what you set out to learn, and
secondly to see whether or not the learning plan assisted in your learning.

You should first examine whether you achieved your objectives: if so, to what level of satisfaction and, if
not, why not?

The value of a learning plan should be assessed at a personal and an impact level.

Personal Level                                                  Impact Level
What do I now know or understand that I did not                 Has my learning helped me in my work, or with my
before?                                                         understanding of a subject?
Has my plan met my original learning needs?                     Has it assisted in my personal development?
Has my practice changed to show what new                        Has it had any effect on the people I deal with?
knowledge/skills I have gained?
Is this the learning that I wanted to do, and was it            Has the theory made a difference to how I work or
of my own choice?                                               plan to work in the future?
                                                                Has the learning changed me in the workplace or
                                                                as a learner?
                                                                Overall, has the result justified the effort?


If your learning plan does not seem to have had much of an impact at either the personal or the impact
level, then before writing off the learning plan as a waste of time, consider why this might be. For
example:

        Did you incorrectly assess your learning needs in one or more domains?
        Did your objectives address these needs closely enough?
        Did you monitor your learning progress sufficiently during the process, and adjust your
         objectives according to changing needs?
        Was your learning at a superficial rather than a deep level?
        Did you use appropriate resources?




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Personal Learning Plan – Template


                                                Personal Learning Plan


Name: _______________________________

Period covered: ________________________

Date completed: _______________________



Learning            Learning           Strategies            What to be        Criteria for      Timescale
Need                Objectives         and                   reviewed/accessed review/assessment (when do you
(and what made      (what you intend                         (the evidence you will      (what will demonstrate      intend to have
                                       Resources                                                                     this piece of
you identify this   to learn)          (what you intend      produce to show that you    that you have been
learning need)                                               have met your objectives)   successful)                 learning
                                       to do and what                                                                completed)
                                       facilities you need
                                       to meet your
                                       objectives)




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