Mediaplanet  Why should someone who is already in an established career consider investing in continuing their education?

Dr. Marie Bountrogianni  In today’s job market, continuing education plays a significant role when it comes to career development. We live in a knowledge economy, which challenges us all to be lifelong learners, staying ahead of the trends. To stay competitive, you need to keep your skills current. Through continuing education, adults are given the opportunity to transform themselves to enhance their careers or make a change.

Over 90 percent of students at The Chang School cite updating existing skills or learning a new skill as the reason for enrolling in continuing education.

MP  For someone who has to meet the demands of work and family life, are online and continuing education programs manageable?

MB  The Chang School prioritizes accessibility and flexibility by offering a variety of learning formats including in-person, online, or blended hybrid classes (offering a combination of online and in-person formats); daytime, evening, and weekend classes; and intensive bootcamp-style and fast-track programs. These options can fit into busy schedules while still providing the best education possible.

"Taking an online course creates an opportunity for those who value work-life balance, are self-directed and motivated, and are at varying stages in their professional development to improve their skills and network with others in the industry."

Going back to school can be challenging if you are a parent who works full-time or anyone juggling multiple priorities. Online learning is a convenient way to pursue lifelong learning. If you’re a parent or an individual with a demanding schedule taking online courses, carve out a regular study time, prepare your family and share the experience.

MP  What are the benefits of online learning programs?

MB  The planning and careful design of online courses takes into consideration the various learning styles and characteristics of online learners. Taking an online course creates an opportunity for those who value work-life balance, are self-directed and motivated, and are at varying stages in their professional development to improve their skills and network with others in the industry.

The dynamic of every online course rests with the experience of the instructor, the materials and the interaction or exchanges that take place. The accessibility of online courses opens the possibility of meeting international classmates who bring a global perspective to the discussion.

MP What are some of the challenges that online learning programs face?

MB Misconception of minimal interaction – Just because the classroom is online, doesn’t mean students can’t interact with each other and their instructors in person. Making the effort to meet and help each other in person adds to student success.

Perception of fixed structure – Online learning programs empower students to take control of their learning pace and style. Syllabi are a framework instructors use to cater to the needs of.

Myth of limited skill development – Online learning allows students to use interpersonal and time management skills to help balance jobs and school. It also allows students to gain new skills not available in the physical classroom.

MP  How has new technology shaped the way we learn?

MB  Technology has helped expand the learning experience for students by offering new ways to engage with each other, instructors and materials.

Students can study at home, on tablets and at their own pace because of online learning. Traditional learning models have changed and are now being used outside of the classroom. Different tools such as apps and interactive software are being incorporated into more programs too.

Technology also expands access, allowing us the opportunity to meet the needs of a wide variety of learners.

MP  What do you think the future holds for online and continuing education?

MB  Continuing education will build on “customized learning,” offering more flexible options to fit into busy schedules while offering the best education.

Online learning opportunities will continue to develop, provided they have a strong focus on engaging course design and opportunities for interaction and peer connections.

Continuing education will evolve, aligned with shifting labour market demands. Many of today’s fastest growing employment areas didn't exist five to 10 years ago. For example, The Chang School’s Certificate in Disaster and Emergency Management was developed based on the need for trained professionals who are equipped to deal with emergencies associated with climate change.