Information, information, information… It’s everywhere. So how do you know if the information you’re finding on the Internet is legitimate? Here are a few things to consider when trying to obtain high quality, legitimate sources for professional development.
About the Creator
Consider the ‘creator’, do they mention their experience with the topic or list their credentials? Generally, if someone is an expert in a particular area, they will identify their expertise by providing their credentials and list experiences on the subject matter. Be cautious of a source where the creator does not specify their credentials and experience in any way. A search engine is an excellent tool when searching for more information about a person or organization providing professional development activities. Reviews are also another way to gain information about a specific activity or provider, it can give you an idea of what others have experienced and what they think of the training being offered.
Evaluate the Quality
If the training is provided online, consider when it was published and if the website is regularly updated. Not all websites post the last modified date; however, if they do post the date, check to see if it’s reasonably up-to-date. Does the author cite sources? When an author cites sources, it legitimizes their work by illustrating not only their own knowledge of the topic but links you to other experts in the field who may also provide the training you seek. Do others cite the author or creator on their websites as a resource? To find this out, go to a search engine and type “link:(website name)” and a list of websites that have links will be listed.
Do you have any questions regarding the content of the activity? If so, contact the provider and ask the questions. The provider should get back to you in a timely fashion with answers to your questions and/or concerns. Be wary of websites that do not provide contact information this may indicate a lack of quality. Generally, if a website is providing activities for professional development, they should also be making themselves available to their customers for questions and answers. Another option is to ask your colleagues; they may have some experience with the provider and training you are interested in. If not, they may be able to review the online source you are researching and give you another opinion.
To further authenticate the source, have a look to see if it has been assigned professional development or continuing competency credits from another regulatory body or association. If so, this would mean the source is supported by a legitimate organization. Another method to find professional development activities is to look at other organizations within the related field of practice to see what professional development activities are being recommended. In this case, the organization has most likely selected or approved this training as being a legitimate source for professional development.
Finally, be passionate about what you do! Be inspired by yourself and those around you. Embrace the learning opportunities that accent who you already are and support your practice!