Some students, and even educators, may think that the journey of education ends when you have a diploma in hand. Whether it’s a GED or a PhD, this is simply not the case. When we stop learning, we stop living, as the saying goes, but have you considered what that means for continuing educators?
Just as our participants keep building upon their foundations to learn, know, and become more, so must continuing educators continue to grow and learn. While it’s easy to consider what participants aren’t doing for themselves, you may not have considered what steps you haven’t taken to fulfill your role. Here are some key things that you may not be doing as a continuing educator (but should be!)
Not Staying Updated on Current Issues and Trends in Continuing Education
Experts in many fields, especially law, technology, and medicine are required to take CE credits to stay on top of new developments in their field. Continuing education instructors teach these courses– But have you considered that you, too, should be staying up to date?
Calculators were not commonplace in classrooms until the 1970s, and the Millennial generation grew up watching presentation technology shift from blackboards and overhead projectors into novel technologies like Smartboards and mobile laptop labs. Now, following the technological revolution, more schools than ever are able to offer classes fully or partially online for more convenient education on the go.
What worked twenty, or even just five years ago, may not work today as the educational landscape continues to evolve and take shape. Our participants live immersed in new technology, evolving faster than ever before, and failing to keep on top of those trends will leave continuing educators in the dust. New grading tools such as plagiarism checker (like TurnItIn.com) offer the chance to keep participants intellectually honest, while being in-the-know regarding online resources like JSTOR and Google Scholar can help you make sure adult learners have the best chance to succeed. Keep up with new tools and trends to ensure your participants get a top-notch experience from your classes.
Not Joining a Network or Community of Like-Minded Continuing Educators
Networking is vital for participants: Exchanging ideas with peers allows for new ideas and connections they may have missed before. But what about continuing educators?
According to the Journal of In-Service Education, peer-networking and mentoring shape how educators grow and develop. Mentoring provides a powerful growth opportunity that all continuing educators, but especially those new to the field, should seek out.
Have you ever had a problem that your training didn’t prepare you for, or just needed to vent to like-minded individuals? Joining a community of like-minded continuing educators will give you both a sounding board for new ideas as well as the opportunity to hear advice from others with new perspectives. Just like participants, educators come from different backgrounds and bring different experiences to the table.
The experiences of your colleagues are invaluable from a professional standpoint, but a personal one as well. Making friends with people in the field can be enriching, especially as the rise of strictly online education has contributed to feelings of isolation amongst many instructors.
Joining a network such as the Georgia Continuing Education Association will allow you to meet continuing educators like yourself, share what you know, and take away ideas you may not have previously considered.
Not Opening Your Options to New Professional Interests
So you’ve been a continuing educator for five, ten, even thirty years, and you’re comfortable there. Is it so wrong to settle into a niche?
As far as employers are concerned, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does rank you below other candidates with more diverse portfolios. Now more than ever, continuing educators are expected to wear many hats: You’re responsible for developing the program, marketing, registration, finances and sometimes even IT. But what about beyond these “musts,” and how can you branch out to become better at what you do?
Be open to new professional interests as they come: Learning new skills, such as marketing techniques or even cross-training in other disciplines within your field can make your education and experience that much more valuable. If your employer offers an opportunity to take some CE classes yourself, capitalize on them, even if they’re a little outside of your usual wheelhouse.
You should also consider professional interests that can diversify your income stream and open doors for new growth: Learning marketing tactics, especially in regards to online and social media marketing, could open up a world of possibility. Pursue an interest in new programs or technologies– You may discover a talent you didn’t previously know about, or unlock a passion that outlines a totally new path for you.