Some distance learning students are completing continuing education courses and some distance learning instructors are teaching continuing education courses. However, not all continuing education courses are completed by distance learning. The questions many people have about continuing education are, “What is continuing education?” and, “Why would I be interested in continuing education if I have already completed my degree?” In this article I will answer the first question and will answer the second in the next article.
What is Continuing Education?
Continuing education does not in fact have any specific definition. It is often considered as any education that a person pursues in addition to his/her secondary school education. Others feel that it is education in addition to a university or college degree. You are actually continuing your education any time that you have quit your studies and decide to return to them at some later point in your life. The courses allow you to develop your knowledge or skills in an area of interest.
In addition to those offered by distance education, many continuing education courses are offered on campus at universities, colleges, and secondary schools. They are usually offered in the evenings or on weekends since many of the students taking those courses are working during the day. The courses last for different lengths of time, varying from full college degrees to general interest courses that may be completed in one day or a few weeks. Sometimes certain conferences or workshops or training within companies are considered to be continuing education courses. Many of the continuing education courses offer certificates upon completion but most of them are non-credit courses. Obviously, if you are working towards a college degree then you will receive credit for the courses you take towards that degree.
Some professions require a set number of CEU’s (Continuing Education Units) every year to make sure that those professionals remain up to date with changes in their field. A CEU is considered to be 10 hours of study in a program which meets the standards of the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). CEU’s are offered by many post secondary institutions. It is possible to earn them online but you must be careful to ensure that the program meets the IACET criteria. Just as there are non-accredited schools issuing worthless degrees, there are many organizations offering worthless CEU’s online. So make sure you check with IACET for their guidelines so that you know if the organization is including all the required criteria.
There are many benefits to taking continuing education courses even when they are not required by your professional organization. The next article will give you some reasons to consider upgrading your knowledge and skills by taking some courses during your non-working hours.