Thursday, September 09, 2010

Verifiable CPD? Really? What do you mean?

Now, when I learnt about CPD way back in the day I got the sense that it should be an intrinsic thing - something that I recorded and to some extent defined. CPD could come from anything - reflections on activity; useful blog discussions I had been part of, books read, talks attended, and of course training courses. Then from time to time I would show what I had recorded to someone and they would approve some or all of what I had done.

But it would seem that for some professions there is a wholly different notion - that of "verifiable CPD". Here's what the British Dental Association have to say on their CPD site:
In partnership with Eastman Continuing Professional Development, the British Dental Journal offers a CPD programme to enable all UK dental practitioners registered with the General Dental Council to collect a maximum of 48 hours of verifiable CPD per annum.


Each issue of the Journal contains two papers that have been selected for verifiable CPD and four multiple choice questions will be linked to each article.


Practitioners will receive one verifiable CPD hour per paper, giving a potential total of two CPD hours per BDJ issue. A record of CPD credits will be maintained by Eastman Continuing Professional Development and certification will be forwarded to the participants. Answers to the questions will also appear in the Journal a month later.
Now I find this kind of thing bizarre, but it's rather telling that it is attached to the BDA Journal.

From a cursory search for "verifiable CPD" it seems that most of the references here in the UK are related to dentistry (to the extent that @verifiablecpd on Twitter is dentally themed), but that's not the only profession that calls on it. Here's an interesting definition from the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (!?):
Non-verifiable CPD Non-verifiable CPD is a learning activity which has taken place, but doesn't have a defined or specific learning outcome.  This would include, for example, general reading of professional magazines; following financial and business matters in print and media; and discussions with colleagues in an informal setting (for example, learning about developments in business or finance at a social event, or informally through networking at a business event, etc).  ICPAC requires you to provide a summary of this activity each year.
Verifiable CPD Verifiable CPD is activity where you can provide evidence that the learning was relevant to your current or future career needs, and you can prove that it took place.  You will need to be able to explain why you chose the activity and how it is relevant to you, when the activity took place, what you learned and how you will apply your learning.  Verifiable CPD does not have to be about attending courses - an example of verifiable CPD is outlined below:
Well, so far so good. The crux of the argument appears to be that CPD only really counts if it is planned in some way. But the example, to my eyes, seems to cross over the non-verifiable side:
In order to write a business paper, you might need to undertake 4 hours of research on the internet, learning in a subject area that is new to you, or where regulation has changed.  You would then write the report.  The report is the evidence of your verifiable CPD.  It shows that you have applied the learning you acquired.  The research you undertook is the learning activity.  You will therefore have completed 4 units of verifiable CPD.
Such verification as there is exists solely on what you say you did in order to do something else. I'm not sure that I would say that this is an entirely legitimate model. But that's not to say that I don't believe the learning that has taken place is entirely legitimate - it's simply the notion of quantifiable CPD that I struggle with. One person's hour of research might be 30 minutes to someone else with better Google skills. And that's just one hole I might pick with the concept. Feel free pick more in the comments.
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