Make the most of your CPD with digital learning from the IET Academy

Launching early next year, the IET’s new online training platform will transform engineering education and development by providing a unique blend of self-paced and directed learning.

In any membership organisation it is imperative to ensure that those who make up the membership are made central to the organisation’s strategy, and this means ensuring that members are kept well-trained and equipped with the latest skills and knowledge base to continue their professional careers. If you look at the key activities of most membership activities, they are already closely linked to education and learning, including conferences, publications in the form of journals and books, and outreach programmes, but more needs to be done if we are to address the growing skills shortage.

The demand for education and professional development within engineering and technology careers has never been higher. Results from the IET’s 2016 Skills & Demand in Industry survey found that over two-thirds of employers are concerned that the education system will not keep up with skills required for technological change; but only half of these organisations have taken steps to influence the content of degrees and technical training.

Of course, different membership organisations will approach these market drivers with different emphases, and many are already investing in developing their education and professional development programmes further in differing amounts of complexity. One aspect which has proved particularly popular is investment in digital-learning solutions, which a recent report from Tagoras found is currently being investigated by as many as 78 per cent of professional membership bodies.

The benefits of digital learning

Providing a platform for members to access online and at their convenience goes a long way towards supporting lifelong learning. This is a must for the majority of engineering professions, which require continuous learning as protocols, standards and knowledge change over time. Many professionals must ensure they have the latest certifications to enable them to actually work. Digital platforms provide an easy and accessible method for members to keep up with continuing professional development commitments. This is generally a high-priority item for many professionals whether they are considering a new job or joining a professional membership organisation.

Digital platforms also provide a place for engagement within member communities. The best way to develop and create eLearning programs that really motivate and engage members is to involve members in the first place. Diversity of media, graded content, incentives, deep social media integration and in-activity polls and surveys are just a few ways this can be achieved within digital-learning platforms.

The convenience of digital platforms is another great benefit, as more and more people are turning to digital devices in search of information. Where this gets complicated is in ensuring that the platform developed will live up to the high demands of a connected membership. The demand is for digital content that is available instantly, wherever it is needed, and in a form that is compatible with any device. There is also a need for platforms to work intuitively as user experience is an enormously important, though sometimes overlooked, element of eLearning design.

The benefits are obvious, and in response to this the IET is embarking on the production of a wide-ranging digital-learning service, the IET Academy. Offering both online and offline access, the IET Academy will provide media-rich content, including videos, podcasts and case studies, together with a wide-range of assessment types – aimed at meeting learning needs at various levels, from apprentice through to qualified engineer.

As well as engaging IET membership, the IET Academy will also provide services for outside organisations, providing training opportunities across all engineering sectors that can be customised for both industry and geography-specific needs.

At launch, a range of courses are being developed in the areas of power engineering and mobile communications, followed by engineering ethics, cyber security and railway safety later in 2018. Many more courses are planned for the next few years and all course content will be updated regularly to ensure currency.

The IET Academy will be accessible to all members, with member discounts available on all paid-for content.

Learn more about the IET Academy from this short video:

Keep an eye on the IET website for more updates.

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