3 Trends That Are Transforming The Face Of Continuing Education

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Education is moving far beyond meeting in brick and mortar classrooms. Here are three trends that are transforming the face of continuing education and likely to overthrow the traditional model altogether. We’ll also address how these overlapping trends affect each other.

Online Learning for Nearly Everything

MIT’s online massive open online courses can be seen as the first stamp of official approval for online learning. They moved a large number of undergraduate and graduate courses online, free for the viewing. Previously, if you wanted to receive advice from a professor, graded homework, and college credit or credit toward a micro-degree, payment was involved. Online learning is now becoming a routine alternative to attending classes in a brick and mortar building. There are classes with several times as many online attendees as students in person, while many classes feature a professor teaching from the home office while students from around the world connect, interact, submit homework, and receive feedback.

Online learning is also altering workplace learning. Workplace training on everything from sexual harassment training to lead exposure courses to HR seminars on bribery and corruption taught to procurement professionals are being taught online. 


College enrollment in four-year programs remains strong with Millennials with four million reaching adulthood per year. The shift toward vocational programs and apprenticeships has started to reduce growth rates in college enrollment. 

In the place of masters’ degrees for adults seeking continuing education is the micro-certification or micro-degree. You see people earning Six Sigma certificates instead of earning a master’s degree in engineering or MBA. They go to coding camp for several months on the weekend or a few weeks in person instead of returning to school for a computer science degree. For many adults, these micro-degrees taken simply online or in person are perfect for continuing education and are recognized outside of the workplace.

New Degrees of Specialization

Instead of the conventional master’s in business administration, it is possible to earn a master’s degree in supply chain management, IT management or international business. Instead of simply earning a master’s degree in degree in education and hoping to become a school principal or continuing education coordinator in an HR department, you can now earn an online master of education in adult and continuing education through an online MEAD program. These specialized degrees allow their holders to stand out in a sea of generic degrees and argue that their coursework makes them uniquely suited for a specific type of position.


Online learning is becoming not only accepted but standard both in the workplace and in place of the traditional college experience. Micro-degrees and micro-certifications are increasingly popular for working adults seeking to invest in themselves, while colleges are giving them equal weight with college coursework by accepting them as college credit. A bewildering array of specialized four year, masters, and doctorate programs are available to prepare people for new careers while allowing them to stand out from those who hold more generic degrees.