When it comes to choosing continuing education courses, you have dozens of options. It’s easy to become overwhelmed but with the proper approach, you can filter out the wheat from the proverbial chaff.
Why Choosing the Right CE Course Matters
It’s easy to assume that all CE courses are created equal. However, nothing could be further from the truth. CE courses run the gamut (in terms of quality). Choosing the right one isn’t a trivial matter. It’s something you need to take seriously. Here are three reasons why:
- Knowledge. For starters, there’s the actual learning portion of CE. If you’re going to spend hours of your time learning information that will be applied to your job, you want to make sure it’s accurate and relevant. Unintentionally choosing the wrong course could set you back. Selecting the right course, on the other hand, equips you with the skills needed to advance your career.
- Time. Some courses require as much as 10, 20, or even 30 hours of your time to complete. You want to make sure you’re spending that time on a course that’s actually going to benefit you.
- Money. CE courses aren’t always cheap (nor should they be). And if you’re going to spend a decent chunk of change on a course, you want to be certain it’s worth it.
How to Evaluate a CE Course
A cursory look at a CE course provider’s website may leave you thinking all courses are the same. However, the more you dig in, the more you’ll discover the differences that exist from one course to the next. Here are some factors you should evaluate:
- Learning Outcomes
Start by reviewing the learning outcomes of the course. This will give you an idea of what the material will cover and what sort of expectations the course provider has for students.
- Are the outcomes clearly stated?
- Are there indications of what students should be able to do after completing the course?
- Do the learning outcomes seem reasonable (when accounting for the program length)?
Always start with learning outcomes. If they’re too conservative, it tells you the course provider doesn’t believe in what they’re doing. If they’re too ambitious, it may be an indicator that the course provider is being overly aggressive with their marketing and misrepresenting the actual course.
- Instructor Credentials
The course provider should be able to give you information on who will be teaching the course (if it’s an instructor-led course). And even if they can’t tell you the exact person who will teach the course, they should have some sort of resource that lists all of their instructors in the program. Take time to review the credentials of these instructors to see if they’re qualified. It’s also smart to look at faculty disclosures.
“Has each instructor disclosed relevant financial and non-financial relationships (or lack thereof) related to the course content? Disclosures help you determine if the instructor has a bias toward the products, services or practices associated with the course,” ASHA.org explains. “It is acceptable for an instructor to have a bias as long as it is disclosed.”
Details such as these may seem small and inconsequential, but they have an impact on the learning experience. It’s better to be overly critical than to not be critical enough.
- Course Formats
Every person has a unique learning style. Some people learn best when they’re able to work through written materials, fill in blanks, and jot down notes. Other people absorb information better when they’re in a live instruction setting where they can ask questions and get real-time feedback. You need to find a course provider that has the right format for your needs.
If possible, find a course provider like Last Minute CEU’s, which offers a variety of formats, including live seminars, online courses, and live online CEUs.
Most CE course providers are going to have fairly similar prices. This is a competitive industry and it’s rare that one provider will have prices that are significantly higher or lower than the rest. However, it’s always a good idea to check.
- Refund/Cancellation Policies
What happens if you don’t like the course? Or what if the course provider doesn’t follow through on the promises made in the learning outcomes? Review each course provider’s refund and cancellation policies to see what sort of concessions (if any) exist. This isn’t a requirement, but it’s nice to see that a course provider has some confidence in their courses.
Putting it All Together
While there might not be a “perfect” CE course, some are certainly better than others. By taking the time to perform some thorough due diligence, you’ll end up making a much more educated choice. As a result, you’ll find the entire continuing education experience to be more powerful and impactful on your career.