Con-Ed does more than just continue your education

Program assistant Kim Sharpe, shares an inside look into the Continuing Education program at Durham College.

What do Maple Mania, Drones, and Healing Energy have in common? They are all new courses offered through Continuing Education at Durham College.

The school’s Con-Ed offers programs both in-class and online for people looking to upgrade, receive a diploma or try something new. The department also offers day workshops.

Program assistant Kim Sharpe says one of the most popular workshops teaches people how to make cosplay hats. These workshops usually run for a day, typically six to seven hours and sometimes include a lunch in the residence café.

So how do these bizarre courses or programs come about?

Sharpe says the process may take one to two years for a new program to be introduced.

Con- Ed has an idea manager for both online, and in-class programs who accepts ideas, Sharpe says. The ideas are then evaluated based on need, finances, employers, and the community. From there the idea is taken to subject matter experts before being brought to Durham’s Board of Governors.

A lack of student numbers, however, can push programs out of existence, Sharpe says.

“Most of the time with continuing education, our students don’t declare what program they are in and they could take one course in September and then not take another course until spring,” Sharpe says. “So we’ve got a lag in students and there’s maybe only one or two students going through the program at anytime.”

The minimum student enrolment for a course to remain open varies between eight to 10, Sharpe says, however, they try to avoid shutting down programs.

“Once we start a program if we have a number of students who are almost finishing we’ll get them through the program to the best of our ability,” Sharpe says.

Sharpe says the online programs, however, are open to all students in Ontario, so there is a larger number of students going through programs online than there are in night school.

One of their most popular programs over the years is business, Sharpe says.

“Business was the first program Durham College ever offered in 1967 and so it (has) been going strong for over 50 years but business is one of the top programs that’s offered both online and in night school,” she says.

The majority of the students are in their 30s, Sharpe says, but she sees people of all ages.

“We’ve even got calls from 16-year-olds saying I want to take guitar…so it can be high school students or I had a man phone me the other day, 75-years-old, he wants to know how to do web design. So it varies,” she says.

The programs offered vary on location depending on volume and where the need is but there are programs offered out of each Durham College campus.

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Taylor Waines is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. When it comes to writing and reporting, she enjoys covering concerts, health concerns and student issues. She likes to spend her spare time writing, and drawing. Taylor hopes to continue feature writing following graduation.