When it comes to continuing education, you have more choices than ever. The marketplace is flooded with content providers, and it’s up to you to determine which ones are trustworthy. Do you know where to start?
4 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Course
Your initial training is typically considered just enough to get you started in your career. From that point on, you need lots of additional experience and training to improve your skills and become a more valuable professional. Continuing education is intended to provide some of the ammunition you need to grow. But with so many different options to choose from, you have to be intentional about which courses you take.
When it comes to providing continuing education, the barriers to entry are low. In the state of Texas, for example, anyone can pay the state $50, abide by a few rules, and they’re legally allowed to offer courses. The same is true in California and dozens of other states.
“On one hand, we want anyone with valuable knowledge and the skill to deliver it to offer CE for credit,” writes Dr. Ben Caldwell, an industry insider. “It’s great that there are a lot of CE providers: It keeps pricing competitive. And even for highly specialized content areas, there are many providers to choose from. Yet, with so many providers, it becomes difficult to find the best courses in our areas of interest.”
Because of these low barriers to entry, it’s imperative that you take the time and effort to perform proper due diligence. Here are some factors to contemplate as you filter through your options for continuing education:
- Accreditation and Approvals
Begin your due diligence by looking for the proper accreditation and approvals. While almost anyone can open up shop and offer continuing education courses, you want to be sure that the courses you’re taking are actually accredited by the proper bodies inside your industry.
When reviewing a provider’s website, read the fine print. Look for language, logos, and guarantees that indicate they’re above board. And depending on your industry, there should be an accessible online resource that allows you to vet continuing education providers and check their credentials. Reference this resource and adopt a “better safe than sorry” approach.
It’s also important to consider the instructors teaching the course. Research each instructor, who they are, and their experience level. Are they certified professionals in your industry? Do they have experience teaching courses? If the course is accredited, then it’s very likely the instructor is accredited, too. However, it’s wise to turn over every stone.
Your learning style is unique. Your brain is wired to learn in a very specific way. And if you want to minimize friction, maximize retention, and improve your skills, it’s important that you take courses in a format that’s conducive to your needs and desires.
The best learning providers offer a variety of mediums. Take Last Minute CEU’s as an example. They offer live online CEU’s, live seminars, and online courses. This flexibility allows students to choose the option that’s best for them. It’s always smart to leave your options open!
- Content Selection
The natural tendency is to take courses that coincide with our strengths. We tend to choose classes that support the beliefs we already hold. But the truth is that you aren’t going to learn much by taking these types of courses. Instead, you should take courses that challenge you.
“Challenges to our professional knowledge are good,” Dr. Caldwell writes. “If we can approach them non-defensively, we get to reckon with the basis for what we think we know. If that basis is sound, then a closer look can leave us feeling more confident in our work, even if the CE instructor works in a different way.”
The objective of any continuing education course is to help you grow. The more you force yourself to be exposed to new ideas, the faster that growth will be.
Make the Right Decision
Continuing education is often viewed as a box you check off (nothing more, nothing less). But in reality, it has the ability to transform your knowledge and skills – ultimately making you a more competent and valuable professional. Do your due diligence and make the right choice!