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Professional Development in the 21st Century
Professional Development in the 21st Century

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”


Practice, training, and professional development have become big business. Worldwide, organizations are spending over $130 billion a year to improve their employees’ productivity. In support of these considerable investments in time and capital, new emerging technologies such as virtual learning and self-authored video instruction are changing the ways millions approach education, training, and professional development.

Once such technology is the Virtual Coaching Platform (VCP), created to support researchers in the Regional Research Institute for Human Services (RRI) at Portland State. VCP allows users to maximize the value of practice, coaching, and training activities by combining elements of video coding with virtual coaching to promote successful outcomes and fidelity to best practices in a variety of contexts. [JH1] With VCP, users can upload video and other content that demonstrates their task-related skills and abilities in action for evaluation by their organization’s training facilitators.

Training facilitators using the VCP can create custom performance evaluations using metrics that matter to the organizations they represent. They can also parse files at intervals to provide general feedback, add specific feedback at any point in time during audio or video files, and embed files that demonstrate expert practices for users to reference. Unlike other virtual coaching platforms, VCP’s video-based approach does not necessitate “live-as-it’s-happening” training evaluation, which frees users and facilitators alike to participate in training activities without disrupting workflow or paying for traveling costs.

VCP is currently used by organizations supporting child and family services at seven sites in Massachusetts. It was recently adopted by the Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland School of Social Work for use on a nationwide training program.

“The VCP is an excellent tool for providing training and coaching services in a variety of settings,” said John Ossowski, a RRI research associate. “I really see this as a tool organizations both in and out of the academy can use to maximize their efforts to improve performance, sustainability, and excellence for all. The versatility of the platform and the simplicity of the user interface make this a great tool for anyone or any organization that wants to improve their knowledge, skillset, and ability.”

Technology has changed the way we work and learn over the last few decades. Now innovations like VCP are changing the way we get better at what we do. By conducting training via the VCP users can receive exacting advice about the practices the need to improve to best perform a task. Administrators or project facilitators on the other hand can offer their students or employees the tailored training they need to reach their maximum potential, whether it’s providing mental health services to a child or playing music at Carnegie Hall.