Continuing Education Evolves to Satisfy Busy Adult Learners

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The number of adults seeking additional education and training is higher than it has ever been. Some are looking to finish their undergraduate degrees or earn post graduate degrees. Some are simply looking to acquire new skills and knowledge that will help then get a promotion, a raise or a new job. Others are lifelong learners who are constantly looking to expand their horizons.

Regardless of the motivation, most adult learners have a few things in common. They’re busy. They have jobs and/or families. They take a consumer approach to education, evaluating traditional college programs, online and mobile courses, and boot camps with an eye toward the return on investment of both time and money.

Continuing education is well-positioned to meet the demands of adult learners and help colleges and universities create new revenue streams by offering new, innovative programs. Continuing education offers more flexibility, allowing schools to test new ideas and learning models and quickly respond to changing consumer needs and market conditions. Because continuing education schools typically operate autonomously from parent schools, there are fewer regulations and budget policies may be less restrictive.

A key trend in continuing education is on-demand learning. Adult learners often can’t wait for the next semester. Career and life changes require the flexibility and accessibility of on-demand learning programs that allow students to enroll and get started immediately, regardless of location.

Of course, technology is largely responsible for the growth of on-demand learning and continuing education in general. Typically, these programs are completely accessible online and enable students to learn at their own pace, although many offer the option of live learning. Virtual learning allows students to participate live via remote, networked classrooms, while mobile learning programs are optimized and designed for delivery on mobile devices.

Because every minute is precious for adult learners, microlearning opportunities have begun to emerge as a popular option for continuing education. Microlearning is online education that learners consume in quick bursts. This may involve watching a video or completing a quiz on a specific subject or skill. Even though each session is short, learners can pause and complete the session later.

Continuing education technology has also made it possible to create custom learning experiences, or personalized learning. Providers can customize not only the learning content, but also the learning environment and user experience. These capabilities provide extra incentive for participation and ensure the experience is as relevant and valuable as possible.

Many colleges and universities are expanding their continuing education offerings to meet the needs of today’s adult learners. However, these programs often exist in silos, separated from traditional for-credit classes, with less-mature processes for attracting students and measuring effectiveness.

Smart schools are implementing enrollment, analytics and management tools that are designed for continuing education, and integrating that data with other information systems to create a complete picture of their students. Axiom Elite can connect your student information system with any data source, helping to boost the success of your continuing education programs.