How Continuing Education Classes Work

Registering and Completing Continuing Education Classes

© Jeff Cadge/Getty Images                          Lawyers have to take continuing education classes.
© Jeff Cadge/Getty Images Lawyers have to take continuing education classes.
Jeff Cadge/Getty Images

Typically, online-course providers send students a confirming e-mail after they've submitted registration information. The course provider also might send the student a password. This password will allow the student to log in to the course site and obtain materials or participate in class. Always save this e-mail so that the password is handy. Printing it out and putting it somewhere safe may be a good idea in case your computer malfunctions.

Online classes use different structures and formats. For example, some may meet in cyberspace at an assigned time once or more per week. At that time, the class may "gather" via two-way, interactive video so that students can observe the instructor lecturing or demonstrating concepts and skills. Students can ask questions or make comments via the video link or by typing them on a screen that the instructor can see. The instructor can react to this feedback as he chooses.

Many courses use online, video and DVD streaming, combined with downloadable written materials. Some require a few actual class meetings. A good course description from an accredited school should make requirements clear.

Another popular online format eliminates the classroom setting and allows students to work at their own pace. Students review the materials online, asking questions and getting feedback from the instructor through e-mail, chat rooms or both. When students feel ready, they can take the appropriate test to demonstrate they've mastered the material.

Not all online mandatory continuing education classes for professionals include testing. When they do, providers also take different approaches to proctoring, the practice of ensuring that students take tests fairly. In some cases, students can sign up to take proctored tests at their nearest community college or university. Other providers have started using Web cameras to watch students while they take exams. Some online courses use traditional hard copy testing, in which a student takes a written test and mails it to be graded. Usually the student is responsible for making test-proctoring arrangements.

Some classes allow students to print or e-mail their certificate from their computer. In other cases, such as the ABA, the provider mails the certificate, once their attendance records are verified.