Understanding the Continuing Education Unit
Prior to ferreting out online CEU units without testing, it pays to understand just what they are. The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)(1) defines one CEU as equating 10 hours of classroom participation in a qualified educational program. Thus, if a course offers 2.5 CEUs, it is fair to assume that it equals 25 classroom hours.
Professionals who must periodically upgrade their skills and provide proof – as might be the case for teachers, nurses, medical professionals and others who receive a license in order to practice their trades – appreciate online CEUs for their convenience. It is interesting to note that virtually any locale can offer these educational units, but only some are IACET-approved. Incidentally, IACET CEUs are the ones accepted by the American Council on Education(2).
It is noteworthy that in addition to the IACET, medical professionals must vet any continuing education units they consider by state accreditation and also medical specialty approval. For example, NetCE(3) is a provider of medical CEUs that target certified nurse assistants, massage therapists, dentists and other medical professionals. It partners with CE Broker, which in turn is approved for Florida healthcare providers.
The credit provider is also recognized by professional boards, depending on discipline. For example, social workers may rely on the CEUs in California, Texas and Florida. This may vary for other disciplines. Courses are a mix of test and no-test versions. At this time, NetCE features a three-course, 30-CEU bundle with a nursing emphasis that is test-free, except for Florida learners who must take an associated test to apply the learning credit to their licensures.
In some cases, CEUs take a backseat to professional development in distance learning. A case in point is the Graduate School(4). Various individual courses are accredited by the American Council on Education, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and also the Project Management Institute. As such, it offers graduate-level coursework that qualifies for certificates.
In addition, individual courses carry CEU designations. For example, the course “Becoming a Motivational Leader” takes six months to complete via distance education but carries 2.4 CEUs. This business model enables distance learners to satisfy current licensing requirements while also providing the opportunity to earn future certificates.
Would-be students should note that finding online CEU units without testing takes a little bit of digging, since these classes are frequently interspersed with test-only courses. As a general rule of thumb, no-test continuing education units carry a lower unit count than their counterparts. What makes these classes nevertheless so attractive is the fact that a certificate of completion may be printed out virtually instantaneously, which can be a real lifesaver during a last-minute rush to beat a re-licensing deadline.