Part of InSync Training's Thriving as a Learning Professional Series
It’s hard to keep up on all that’s going on in the L&D space. Emerging artificial intelligence tools, new ed tech products, and the changing nature of work and of employee expectations, on top of what’s new in leader development, diversity and inclusion, or sales enablement, is a lot. The endlessly rolling news and hype cycle is tough to follow, not only for topics already on your radar, but also for what you may need to be versed in the future.
They say change happens slowly, then all at once. We may be able to see tomorrow’s headlines in our peripheral vision, yet when they finally take the front pages, we may still have to scramble to catch up. Your secret superpower for contending with rapid change may well be an unassuming bookmarking tool—if you use it purposefully.
Bookmark: a link to a website address saved electronically to facilitate quick access to the web page
Whether you have a cache of bookmark folders on your browser or use a cloud-based tool like Diigo, Evernote, or Pocket, tagging items of interest helps you to find them later when you really need to dig in. Additionally, you can collaborate with a group to share links with one another when you are learning together.
A good bookmark file can serve as outsourced memory—a place to store things you don’t need just yet, but may in the future, e.g. articles, books, videos, podcast episodes, products, and other useful materials. You can simultaneously keep your mind clutter-free for engaging with today's challenges and create a technology-enabled space for packing away a knowledge base for future readiness.
Using Bookmarking For Professional Development
Bookmarking may not have the wow factor it once had, but it remains a useful tool. Bookmarks are rapid professional development in waiting. When you need to quickly familiarize yourself with a topic, you won’t need to rely on a search engine that highlights sponsored content or a chatbot which may be trained on outdated information or be an unreliable synthesizer. Instead, you’ll have a cache of material you saved from trusted sources to get you started. Bookmarks are your personal curated links.
Using bookmarking for professional development is an easy process.
Make a habit of saving items of interest.
You no doubt have some topics you follow closely in order to remain up to date in current areas of practice. Be sure to bookmark the best materials you run across, else they may prove impossible to find again when you need them. Just as importantly, you may start noticing a frequent topic of conversation that isn’t something you need to know about right away. Start saving those materials, too. Bookmarking products often offer tools that make saving from your browser a simple click of a button.
Your saved items can be enriched when you have strong social media feeds or RSS tools. Following people, organizations, and publications using these tools is what keeps you apprised of emerging developments and interesting work in your field. You won’t have time to read every article that gets recommended on those feeds, but if you respect the source, saving it for later can be a smart practice for advancing in your field.
Tag them for easy reference.
The best part about bookmarking tools is that as you save links for future use, you can tag items any way you like (and with multiple tags) for better organization and easier access. Use keywords or phrases that make sense to you. For example, I have tags like future_of_work, ChatGPT_in_L&D, leader-led_development, and trends_23. (Put – or _ between words to make them appear as one tag.) You can tag the author’s name as well to be able to quickly find content from favored thought leaders.
Search bookmarks first.
When a topic you’ve been monitoring on the periphery starts getting attention in your day-to-day world, you can pull up bookmarked items and bring yourself up to speed quickly. If someone asks you a question about a topic that isn’t your strength, you can find links to share as a quick tutorial.
When you and a group of colleagues are researching material for a project together, you can collate all your saved materials in one place by using a social bookmarking tool (creating a group in a cloud-based tool). In that case, it may be useful to agree on tags or use the descriptor field to alert colleagues about what’s important in the materials you contribute.
Even without creating a group, it’s easy to share a set of links on a given topic by just sharing the link to your tagged list. Sometimes it can be more accessible to create a new list or put links in a document rather than share a window of a messy personal Diigo file. (Your bookmark file may be a treasure trove, but it can act as a sort of hall closet where you stuff all kinds of things that may or may not be useful once you get back to them.)
Streamlining Learning with Bookmarks
Many people start their exploration of a topic with an internet search or a chatbot conversation. It’s still something of a wonder how these tools can put the world of knowledge at your fingertips. Yet it can also be disappointing—sponsored content and inscrutable algorithms may clutter your search returns with unhelpful recommendations. Yet if you make a habit of scoping out emerging topics and storing the resources that come through your feeds that are related to those topics, you’ll be able to get to relevant, helpful material quickly when you need it. Make bookmarking one of your professional development superpowers.