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Online Class in Adult Education: Coursework Overview

Online adult education courses, which may be offered at community colleges or 4-year institutions, are usually found in either continuing education or extended learning programs. Adults can also choose to pursue a college degree at either the undergraduate or graduate level.

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Online Courses in Adult Education

Although courses will vary depending on a student's major and school, the following options represent common course offerings in different adult education programs.

  • American Government: This course provides students with an in-depth analysis of how the American government works. Students will examine the government's main branches and how they interact with each other, and special attention will be devoted to the evolution of government from the 19th century to the present day.
  • Sociology: A common online offering at a number of schools, sociology is a complex field. This introductory course provides students with an overview of the fundamental tenants of sociology. Course topics include societal change, class inequality, and culture characteristics.
  • Critical Thinking: Much more abstract than most online offerings, critical thinking courses deal with philosophical issues and challenge students to consider and improve their ways of thinking. Students will develop skills related to self-assessment, and other course topics include problem-solving and intellectual standards.
  • Psychology: This introductory course starts with the history of psychology from its beginning to the current day. It covers psychological principles, theories, and research methodologies as they relate to human behavior, personality, reasoning and memory. Also included is the effect of heredity, stress, the environment, brain structure and emotion on human behavior.
  • Cultural Geography: This course examines societal events and trends as they relate to geography in order to better understand the interdependence of environment and culture in a global society. Course topics include geopolitics, globalization, urbanization, economic differences and development and the effects of the population on culture.
  • English Composition: This course teaches students how to write effectively at the college level. Students learn the proper conventions of standard English starting with prewriting exercises and planning all the way through to finished communication in various writing genres. Students learn how to construct effective sentences and paragraphs, develop essays and thesis statements and the proper APA style for developing a bibliography, as well as how critical reading skills can be used to improve the writing process.

Program Information

Adults looking to continue their education have plenty of online options, regardless of their level of education. Programs are available for both students who have yet to receive a high school diploma and adults with multiple college degrees looking for career training. Students enrolled in an online adult education course can expect to use Blackboard software, through which instructors post password-protected assignments, quizzes, tests and other course content. Most correspondence is accomplished through e-mail or postings on forum-style bulletin boards.

Often, online adult education classes are designed to help students complete their General Education Development (GED) requirements. These programs are designed for those who can read at a 9th grade level. College degree programs for working adults are known as extended learning. For adult degree seekers, online classes in adult education might include undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and doctoral-level coursework. Online undergraduate programs typically integrate general education courses, while graduate-level programs focus more on advanced topics in the area of study, as well as research methods.

Regardless of which adult education courses students pursue, any additional coursework, either online or in a traditional classroom, is likely to boost their career options. Students who complete GED programs will have access to community college or 4-year university programs. After completing an online adult education program, post-baccalaureate and graduate students who earn advanced degrees and certificates may realize higher earning potential.

Online courses in adult education are available in a variety of subjects from basic introductory courses in such subjects as English composition and American government to more specialized courses in areas such as critical thinking and cultural geography. Programs can be found for those seeking to obtain a GED all the way through to the post-graduate level.

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