Resources and information sources

We will spend time in the following sections outlining the various resources and information sources that are available to you in addition to your learning materials. The aim is to give you ideas for developing and expanding your learning, thereby enhancing your learning activity.

Seminars, training workshops, presentations, and lectures
These give you the chance to find out how others make sense of a given topic, to explore subjects and to ask questions. They can act as a supplement to study materials by providing details of relevant issues and explanations of complex material or questions.

If you are a member of an institute, look out for local branch events which are often free of charge and a useful route to CPD, amongst other things.

Journals are published by sector experts and are usually high-quality reference sources that are up to date and topical. Within the financial services sector, these include Insurance Age, Post, Insurance Times, Brokers Monthly and the CII’s Journal.

Subscription often includes online access and journals can provide the kind of information you need for assignments and research.

The Internet
Online search engines can help you speedily locate information. It is important to judge the quality, accuracy and validity of online information and the indicators that you should consider are:

  • Who produced the information – is it an individual opinion or from a reputable organisation with expertise in the subject?
  • When was the page updated?
  • Whether the page information is linked to other sites or provided with references that you can check?
  • What is the source of any numerical information?

Online learning
Your learning materials may include or constitute online learning, which covers a wide range of methods and applications and usually involves little listening as it is largely text or graphics based.

Whilst traditional online learning has required reading and analysis, contemporary programmes lend themselves to more interactive learning and online assessment, thus appealing to a wider range of learning styles.

Feedback is a useful resource and a helpful guide to what to do to improve. If the format of your studies includes the provision of feedback, be sure to read it carefully and avoid the temptation to throw it away if it is not as positive as you had hoped! It can be helpful to put it away for a day or so and then go through it again.

Try not to be distracted by negative points; human nature is sometimes to focus on areas for improvement and overlook positive remarks. It is constructive to identify one or two main areas for improvement and to action plan for these, perhaps in your personal development plan.

If you spot recurring themes over time, ring fence these as development items.

Other resources
These include the library or an employer’s learning resources centre where you may be able to access a range of journals, CDs, audio-visual materials, and books. Also, if your employer offers a mentor scheme, this can be extremely helpful to improve your study skills. The insight that you can gain from someone else’s experiences – both successes and failures – is often invaluable. Sometimes, these schemes are known as “study buddy” programmes.