Continued Education, Technologically Speaking


The future of work is a frequently discussed subject of late. Whether it be job retraining or the future impacts of automation, the reality is that we live in a time of constant training and re-training of our workforce.  That is especially true when it comes to technology, where the very nature of the business is to be constantly evolving and innovating.  This environment has the potential to be extremely stressful, but I have found that resources abound to make continued education in the realm of technology easy to facilitate.  Here are a few of my favorite go-to resources for staying on top of the latest transforming technology has to offer.

  • Webinars: As online seminars, webinars are a fantastic, interactive way to learn about a trending topic or new advancement in a technology. The webinar allows the host to do multiple things, including screen share, streaming video, and even take questions in real time. GovLoop hosts many webinars covering a wide range of topics.  Easily accessible through your web browser – some require a plug-in – webinars are a priceless resource.
  • YouTube Channels: Most vendors host their own YouTube channels, posting videos that cover how-to’s, big announcements, panel discussions, and many more. If you are searching for an answer to a problem that has been plaguing you, chances are someone has created a video that walks you through the steps.  Checking out YouTube channels is an easy way to benefit from first-hand experience.
  • Meet Ups: When it comes to categories of technology – GIS, big data analytics, open source – most of these communities have meet ups where they support one another and bring in featured speakers/presenters.  At Esri, we have a Young Professionals Network (YPN) which really focuses on helping GIS professionals at the beginning of their careers.  We also offer developer meet-ups, where those in charge of keeping software running can gather together, listen to a guest lecture, and share ideas. Communities like YPN and developer meet ups exist across the technological spectrum and they are a beneficial resource for those looking to expand their knowledge.
  • User Conferences: Many software vendors host conferences where users can come together to learn the latest advancements in technology and again, share knowledge. More general than a specific meet up, these provide value in that users across many different industries and specialties can meet and share ideas.
  • White Papers: Got a thorny issue you are contemplating?  Chances are that providers of technology solutions have had the foresight to pull together some solutions for you and packaged them in a white paper.  When it comes to trying to get ahead of a difficult scenario, white papers – readily available on the web – can be an important tool.
  • Online User Groups and Forums: Just like many agencies and companies have internal chat platforms, users of certain technologies gather together online to answer each other’s questions and provide support when needed. Don’t overlook these online user groups as a meaningful way to connect with others in your field and benefit from their knowledge and experience.
  • Blogs: Useful content is being produced and published by vendors and users alike.  Take the time to seek out blogs and bloggers that you feel are most valuable and make sure to frequently read their blog posts.  Oftentimes these blogs focus on new features and capabilities and help give helpful hints and suggestions for getting the most out of solutions. Well thought out and composed blogs are an outstanding resource to get up to speed on a technology or issues quickly.
  • Technical Support: There is a common misperception that vendor technical support exists only for solving an immediate problem. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  At Esri, we really focus on being an educational resource for our users helping them to grow and mature with the technology. Bear in mind that technical support is not just a one-stop destination, but rather an educational journey with that technology.

Those are a few of my favorite resources when it comes to staying up to date with current technology or if you have had a direction change and need to learn something new.  As Isaac Asimov said, “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”  Resources abound to help you on your way – get out there and keep learning.

Christian Carlson is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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