Continuing Education: What Does It Mean? Part 1
Professional development is perhaps the most direct application of the term “continuing education.” Students seeking continuing education courses for the purposes of professional development have already attained a degree, certificate, or license of some kind and/or are employed in a position that requires regular continuing education credits in order to maintain valid credentials and/or employment.
Teachers and insurance industry professionals are just two types of adult learners who typically need continuing education units, sometimes called “CEUs.” CEUs may be required on an annual schedule (X number of units per year) or within a set number of years (X number of units every five years). Professionals in certain fields (such as architects) are limited to CEUs from adult education institutions that have received accreditation or approval from an educational oversight body associated with their field. One CEU is generally accepted to equate to 10 hours of classroom instruction with a qualified instructor (therefore, a 30-hour continuing education course would be worth three CEUs). These courses also tend to be taught by industry professionals with significant experience in their fields.
This sector of adult continuing education deals with those adult learning opportunities that are not geared directly toward the professional world. Examples of personal enrichment courses could include a beginner’s photography class, basic cake decorating, floral arrangement, or conversational Spanish. Personal enrichment courses are typically more casual and considered “just for fun,” however practical topics or skills such as how to do your own taxes at home, setting up a household budget, or basic home repair could also find their place within this realm.
Adult continuing education institutions that offer “wellness” classes such as yoga or meditation may also file them under personal enrichment. Topics in popular culture or noncredit discussions of works of literature or other more “academic” subjects may also be presented as personal enrichment classes within the adult continuing education context. Today’s job market has also led to a variety of “how to write a great resume” and “how to interview like a pro!” classes.