Football Saturdays and Online CE
I was watching my favorite college team when I made the connection between my football viewing and my day job. The Fighting Irish might have been playing USC when I realized that it wasn’t that long ago when the only way to see your favorite team on the field was to be in the stands.
It’s a great experience to watch a game at the venue. You get caught up in the energy, hear the cheering, and feel the bleachers vibrate when the band plays. But we can’t always be in attendance. On this particular Saturday, I happened to be at my son’s band practice--watching the game on my phone--when I started thinking about my day job, delivering online continuing professional education (CE). At one time, the only way to attend a seminar or take a course (catch an important subject matter expert in your field-- no pun intended) was to travel to the venue where the material was being presented. As with football, being at the venue would have certain advantages, it would also have disadvantages—travel time and expense, time away from the office/practice/clients, etc. Now that we have the technology for capturing and broadcasting to someone’s mobile phone (or tablet or laptop) it’s a new world—for football fans and CE.
Bringing CE online opened up events and courses to a significantly larger audience by making it possible to participate pretty much anywhere an Internet connection is available. It also made scheduling conflicts a non-issue because it enabled on-demand versions of programming (the DVR of online education). Watching the game on my phone was a reminder that this is the age of remote viewing options, from hi-def TV and laptops to tablets and smart phones. I can watch my favorite team while my kid’s band is tuning up or take a required course at home, in the middle of the night if that’s what happens to work best for me.
There are a few important differences between CE and football, however. If I’m taking an online course my participation in the course is tracked and I will likely be tested at the conclusion, to ensure that I’m proficient before I get credit (no one has ever checked to see if I was paying attention during the game). And, in an online course, I actually get credit. I can also go back over the materials (the CE version of instant replay), mark sections that I may want to revisit, and take notes. Another difference between remote football viewing and CE (besides the fact that one really does help your career) – it is extremely rare to hear an online CE participant yelling into his phone during the action. But the convenience, in both cases, makes it a whole new world for busy professionals… or a whole new ballgame.