In-Person or Online? Where Should I Take My CE Courses

Almost every state in the country that requires licensing for general contractors also requires a certain amount of annual continuing education in order to renew that license. Since requirements are different from state to state, it’s critical that you check the specific mandates in your state in order to avoid a potential suspension of your license. But no matter where you live if continuing education courses are a requirement, you’ll be faced with a choice: take the courses online or in-person.

Your personal choice will depend on a lot of factors, but either way, it’s an important decision. Why? Because everyone learns differently. Some people are great at studying but terrible test-takers; some people need to be engaged with others while some work better on their own. Most continuing education courses are offered both online and in person. Here are some of the pros and cons of both to help you decide which one is right for you.

The pros and cons of online continuing education classes

When you think of taking continuing education courses for your contractor’s license renewal, you probably default to online courses. But if you have a choice between online courses and in-person courses, take these pros and cons into consideration before making your decision.

Pros:

You work on your own. If you get anxious in groups, don’t like answering questions from the teacher, and focus better when you’re alone, then online continuing education courses may be best for you. The same goes for if you’re not a good test-taker. Online courses typically allow you to re-take the final exam until you get it right. If that sounds like you, stay at home and take the classes online.

You absorb information better from reading than from listening. I’m not a neurologist, but the fact is that people learn differently. Some people absorb information better when they read it from a book, while others perform better when they listen to an expert and take notes. Which one are you?

Your schedule does not allow you to drive back and forth to class. There’s no doubt that online courses are very convenient. If you work in the office a lot, or can’t take your courses until you’ve got free time at 10:00 PM, then you may need to take your continuing education courses online.

Cons:

It’s difficult to ask questions. If there’s something about the material that you don’t understand, then you’ll need to research the answer yourself when you take your courses online. Some courses offer access to an instructor during virtual “office hours,” but that means you have to move on with other material before you get your question answered.

Additional Screen Time. Let’s face it: after a year of COVID, way too many Zoom meetings, and the agonizing amount of administrative work we have to do anyway, the last thing most people want is to be in front of a computer screen some more. Considering the typical requirement for continuing education is six to eight hours, that’s a full day of additional screen time…especially if you plan on doing all your courses in a single day.

The pros and cons of in-person continuing education classes

As mentioned earlier, most contractors aren’t aware that you can take your continuing education courses in a classroom. For some people, this is the best environment for learning. Let’s look at some pros and cons of in-person instruction.

Pros:

It’s the format we’re used to. Even if you grew up in the Internet era, you sat in a classroom for your education for anywhere from 12 to 18 years (or more). Classrooms are what many of us are used to. We get in one and our brain just switches into learning mode. This can be very different from sitting in front of a computer, which we use for entertainment, business, hobbies, and other non-educational purposes.

It takes you away from the office (or home). I don’t know about your office, but I can’t get 10 minutes of private time without someone coming in with some kind of brand new “emergency” that only I can help solve. And at home? Kids, TVs, barking dog…and believe me, when I finally walk through my front door, it’s time for a beer, not time to get on the computer and take a class.

You can network with other contractors. Your fellow licensed contractors don’t have to be regarded as the competition. They’re people you can network with, and potential sources of both information and clients. You won’t meet these people if you stay in front of your computer.

Cons:

You will not be learning at your own pace. In-person classes are group events. As such, students are invited to ask questions and participate in discussions, which means in-person classes can generally last longer than online classes. If you need to go as fast or as slow as you want, when you want, the in-class learning environment might not be best for you.

If you decide to take the online CE path, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call today!

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