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Continuing Education Units: Students Go Digital

By eLearning Inside
August 04, 2022

Given the fact that increasing numbers of people are able to complete everything from grocery shopping to work meetings online, it’s no surprise that CEUs (Continuing Education Units) are also available in virtual form. Online classes have been a thing for years, but CEUs tend to be more specialized.

They may not count towards the credits you’d need for a degree, but they can be just as valuable in terms of getting your dream job or salary. Even if you’re just taking a CEU because you want to explore a subject more in-depth, that could translate to concrete benefits for a future career.

In some fields, CEUs are mandatory in order to maintain a license or certification. For example, nurses and other medical professionals have to keep up with current medical research and breakthroughs, even if they got their degrees 30 years ago. They can use services like Nursing Central to bring them the information they need, which helps them to provide top-of-the-line care for their patients. They also have to prove that their medical knowledge is up-to-date by completing approved nursing CEUs.

Reasons why people take CEU courses at home

In a nutshell, the main motivation is convenience. However, that isn’t the only reason why people are opting for online CEUs. Let’s take a closer look at the details:

Budgetary reasons – Whether you’re taking a CEU or a regular college-level class, the online versions are often less expensive than typical classroom courses. The tuition is usually the same, but you’ll definitely save money on travel expenses.

There’s no need to travel – You might live in a town where the CEU options are limited, or you could have your heart set on a course that’s offered from across the globe. Whatever the case, an online CEU means you don’t have to worry about how you’d access the course.

You have other commitments – Attending class in a classroom is a lot more hassle than attending an online course. If all you have to do is park yourself in front of your computer for a set amount of time, you’ll probably find it a lot easier to squeeze a CEU into an already busy schedule.

You have an inflexible work schedule – Sure, night classes are a thing, but they aren’t common enough to rely on when you’re looking for the CEU you need. Since online CEUs let you listen to lectures and submit assignments at any time of day or night, this means that a tight work schedule won’t get in the way of continuing education.

Why do people take CEU courses in the first place?

Some jobs (such as nurses, doctors, or lawyers) require continuing education in order to maintain their licenses, but not everyone takes these courses because they have to. Some people take them for personal reasons. For instance, an advanced certification (which could be earned through a CEU) can increase lifetime earnings by up to 35% compared to just having a bachelor’s degree.

CEUs can also be a way to prove that you’re dedicated to your job. If employees want to make themselves seem more valuable to their bosses, a continuing education course can help do the trick. The same principle applies to anyone who’s looking for a job. The more qualified you are for a position, the more likely you are to get hired.

Differences between online and in-person CEUs

Taking a class online may be more convenient, but it also comes with its own challenges compared to traditional classes. Here’s how they stack up:

You’ll have to concentrate more – If you’re in a classroom, the most interesting thing in the room will (hopefully) be the professor. If you’re taking an online course, however, you could have more distractions than you can shake a stick at. There could be emails, texts, phone calls, kids, or co-workers. It’s certainly possible to remove yourself from all these distractions; it’ll just take more discipline than you might expect.

You’ll have to be more proactive – Depending on the course you’re taking, you might not have too much competition for the professor’s attention in the classroom. In a CEU, on the other hand, you could be one of the hundreds of students – and you have to do more than raise your hand if you have a question. If you run into a roadblock, you’ll have to make sure that you contact someone directly.

You’ll need better time-management skills – In-person classes may be less convenient, but they’re also harder to procrastinate on. You can take online CEUs when it suits you, but if you chronically delay assignments, you might end up in trouble if you leave everything until the last minute. If you’re going to take a CEU online, make sure you’re structured enough to get everything done on time.

You’ll need a certain amount of technical knowledge – This probably won’t be an issue for younger generations, but remember that CEUs are often taken by those who’ve already spent a decade or two in the workforce; they might not be that well acquainted with today’s technology. You’ll be navigating the platform where the CEU is made available, plus you could be using tools like Skype, Zoom, Adobe Acrobat, or Microsoft Word. You’ll also need decent WiFi and a reliable computer.

You’d benefit from having good writing skills – This isn’t just about crafting well-written papers, although it wouldn’t hurt. It’s about being able to communicate with people you can’t see face-to-face. If you want to participate in discussions or explain what you need help with, you’ll need to be able to express yourself via the written word.

The Benefits of going digital

No matter what your reason happens to be for taking a CEU, you might benefit from doing it online. It’s more convenient, and it’s often more cost-effective. Millions of people in the US take CEUs each year, and growing numbers of people are choosing to complete the courses online. If you think it would be a good fit for you, maybe it’s time to give it a try yourself.

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