Creating a Learning Path Based on Competencies

While there is an argument to be made that workplace learning should be continuous and a regular part of every work day, there is great value in periodically assessing your learning needs and developing a plan to address those needs.  An annual or semi-annual assessment and planning process allows you to be strategic about finding ways to address your learning priorities.   It typically happens as part of an annual performance review, though there are some who believe it should be done semi-annually or even quarterly.  Those who advocate for a shorter time period, argue that it allows for sharper focus, leading to a better chance of relevant learning and the successful application of that learning.

Regardless of the time period you choose, focus is important.  While it may be tempting to come up with a dozen competencies you would like to develop, it is unrealistic to think you can work on learning that many things at once.  You will be far more successful with your learning objectives if you focus your efforts on no more than four (4) competencies in any given year.  This may seem too modest an undertaking but, in reality, learning takes time.  It’s not simply a matter of attending a one-day workshop, for example.  For real learning to take place, you need time to be introduced to the new content (the workshop), time to work with that content, consult with others, reflect on its importance and application, and, ultimately, practise doing something different as a result of your learning.    

It may be possible to take on more than four competencies at a time if two or more of them are closely related.  For example, if you have identified the Project Management skill set as being something you need to develop, you can treat all three competencies within that skill set as a single learning objective, identifying learning activities that will help you grow all three competencies at once.  It is also possible to increase your learning expectations if your regular duties and responsibilities are lessened so that learning can be accelerated.    

The results of your learning assessment and planning process are captured in a document, often called a Development Plan.  However, SOLS has opted to call the document a Learning Path, rather than a Development Plan.  We have a few reasons for the choice of language: 

  • By including ‘learning’ in the title, we keep the focus on learning as the purpose and intended outcome of any training and development initiative.
  • The use of the word ‘path’ implies a more active stance than planning.
  • Sometime in the latter half of 2014 SOLS and a number of partner agencies, including OLA and OLS North, will launch a collaborative, province-wide Training and Information Portal for public library staff. The portal uses the language of learning path, thus, it seemed it would be helpful if we used the same language.

Your Learning Path is a contract you make with yourself in which you outline the things you are committed to doing over the next year in order to learn and grow. 

To begin the work of creating a Learning Path follow the four steps outlined in 4 Steps to Create a Learning Path.  

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