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How Can I Teach Continuing Education Classes?

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Continuing education courses are designed to provide information to established professionals or to offer community members a structured way to explore areas of interest. People take continuing education courses for three main reasons. One reason is for professional development to stay abreast of state-of-the-art services or to be more competitive for job promotions. The second reason is to fulfill requirements for professional licenses. The third reason is for personal enrichment and growth.

Experience and Preparation

To teach continuing education courses, a prospective instructor must have credible expertise in an area of study to develop a curriculum. Use your work experience (minimum 1 to 2 years) and job-related observations to identify topics to cover in your classes. Read books and articles on “cutting-edge” approaches, new trends and innovations. You can also build on knowledge gained through your own education, degree program or certifications.

Type of Continuing Education Class

If the continuing education class topic focuses on general interest areas for adult learners, you may not need to receive any kind of special approval to teach. Examples of this type of class include gardening, dance, dog training and art. If your continuing education topic is geared toward professionals such as nurses, doctors (continuing medical education, CME), lawyers (continuing legal education, CLE), therapists, social workers or teachers, check with your state’s professional licensing board for continuing education instructor requirements so that enrollees can receive "credit." Both in-class (face-to-face) and online or e-learning formats are available.

Class Proposal Information

Develop a draft syllabus or study plan to submit as a proposal for a course. These documents include four basic components--a brief description of your course, including the type of student who should enroll and the number and length of class sessions; any materials or preparations students need such as books, loose clothing (for fitness courses) or computer specifications; a brief list of topics to be covered; and reference sources if applicable.

Getting Students Enrolled in Your Class

To get students for your continuing educations classes, contact local colleges and universities. Many higher education institutions welcome new or unique continuing education offerings. Search their websites for “continuing education” or for what is sometimes called “educational outreach.” Review courses that the school already offers so that you can propose something different.

Professional and Private Resources

Professional or private organizations, associations or companies regularly offer or sponsor continuing education classes for their members. For example, if you wish to offer a continuing education course in human/social services, contact the executive director of your state’s chapter of organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists or the Association for Addiction Professionals. Local and national contact information for any type of field–from the sciences to hobbies--can be found through web searches.

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