Many people ask about the different types of CPD, and specifically what is the difference between structured CPD and self-directed CPD? The majority of professional bodies require at least 50% of CPD to be completed in a structured format, and so it is important to be aware of the differences between the two.
Structured CPD is considered a formal learning environment, which typically includes training courses, online eLearning programs, workshops and seminars that have been accredited and conform to CPD guidelines and standards. Structured CPD consists of two-way interactions between trainer and delegates, and follows a methodical approach to learning that can be delivered consistently time and time again.
To put the learning into context, Structured CPD will often contain case studies and examples within the training pack, as well as Q&A, breakout discussion groups and possible assessments to ensure that key learning has been embedded. When a delegate has completed an item of Structured CPD, they will in most instances be provided with a CPD certificate of attendance/completion, which can be used as part of the individual’s personal CPD record for submission at their professional body, where relevant.
Self-directed CPD is considered more informal, and is often 1-way directional learning and does not necessarily follow a consistent and methodical approach to knowledge sharing. Self-directed CPD can be quite broad in terms of the activities completed and can include reading news articles, blogs or books, general industry study and research, watching relevant educational videos, informal discussion groups and reflective analysis.
Of the self-directed learning completed, individuals must elaborate further on their personal CPD record as to what new knowledge has been obtained, what will be put into practice and how long in duration the self-directed learning has taken. Self-directed CPD must be relevant to individual career aspirations and any fundamental obligations set out by their professional body.