Leaders in Online and Professional Continuing Education

Understanding the Adult Learner and Other PCO Constituencies in Professional, Continuing, and Online Education - August 2022

Faculty Member

Barbara Hanniford


Members: $459 

Non-Members: $599


Who are the constituents and stakeholders that compose the ecosystem of Professional, Continuing, and Online Education? What are the unique characteristics and educational needs of adult learners?   How do the characteristics of the student market determine how programs are designed and delivered?

This course examines prospective student markets and how to address their educational needs.  This course also examines the roles of employers, communities, and government agencies in creating educational opportunities. 

Topics Covered 

  • Professional, Continuing, and Online Education (PCO) audiences 
  • Characteristics, motivations, and learning barriers of adult learners
  • Trends in adult learner enrollment
  • Program planning for PCO audiences
  • Online learners and alternative credentials 

Learning Objectives

  • Identify different potential audiences for PCO programs.
  • Describe trends in adult student enrollments and sources of data.
  • Explain the unique characteristics and learning needs of adult learners, including motivation and barriers.
  • Explain ways to learn more about and recruit prospective PCO audiences.
  • Describe program features and services needed to accommodate adult learners.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of online learners.
  • Explain and give examples of alternative credentials for adults and other groups that offer educational opportunities for adults

Who should take this course? 

This course is designed for professionals at various levels, particularly those who have some experience in PCO education administration who seek to learn more about working with adult and online audiences. 

Format and Schedule

This is a four week course consisting of about five hours of weekly course work made up of readings, asynchronous activities, and a weekly one hour live class meeting via Zoom. The schedule for the live class meetings will be shared soon. 

Barbara Hanniford

Adjunct Faculty Member

Cleveland State University

Barbara Hanniford is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Cleveland State University. Hanniford has substantial continuing education experience at four major universities as well as college teaching experience. She served as Dean of the Division of Continuing Education at Cleveland State University from 2002-2011, and as a part-time Program Manager for the Department of Counseling, Administration, Supervision, and Adult Learning at Cleveland State from 2012-2015. Previously, Hanniford served as the Assistant Dean for Lifelong Learning at Kent State University, Program Manager for Continuing Education at The Ohio State University, and as a Research Specialist at Penn State University. She has been extensively involved in professional association activities, including editing The Journal of Continuing Higher Education for 10 years and serving as president of the Ohio Continuing Higher Education Association. Hanniford holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from The Ohio State University, an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from Phillips University, and a B.A. in Psychology from Allegheny College.

See what past participants have to say about this course: 

"It was great. Every PCO employee should jump on this one."


"The course content provided relevant information that is applicable and relatable in the current PCO environment. I found the readings and articles especially helpful in understanding potential avenues that my own PCO unit can explore to navigate these unknown times."


"Excellent content, well-paced and engaging 'live' meetings, meaningful discussion topics, applicable culminating assignment."


"Barbara was great. She engaged with the different stages of colleagues at the various career stages and within different departments"

This content will not be available until 08/22/2022 at 1:48 PM (EDT)