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Walden Magazine // Feb 03, 2021

Upskilling for the Workforce of Today—and Tomorrow

Walden’s School of Lifelong Learning gives alumni a flexible way to enhance their skill sets and meet the demands of a constantly changing world.

The concept of lifelong learning has always been woven into the fabric of Walden. Since the university’s founding in 1970, Walden leaders, faculty members, and students have embraced the belief that learning doesn’t stop with a formal education or degree. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that helps us adapt to a changing world, address novel challenges, and bring innovation to our organizations and communities.

Walden’s School of Lifelong Learning, launched in 2019, supports the continued growth and success of our alumni with targeted, à la carte educational offerings. “Beyond our 80-plus degree programs, we offer shorter-term, skills-based learning that’s valuable in so many industries,” says Wendy Lin, senior director of product management at Walden. “You might not have the time or resources right now to pursue another degree. But you can upskill and use that knowledge immediately to reach that next level at work and in your career.”

A Focus on In-Demand Skills

The School of Lifelong Learning offers hundreds of for-credit individual courses in a variety of areas, including education, business, and counseling. Academic credits may later be applied to a Walden degree program. The school also offers noncredit professional development courses that may lead to continuing education units (CEUs) or micro-credentials (e.g., professional certificates). Students can start these self-paced, online courses at any time.

Last fall, the school launched professional development offerings in addiction counseling, leadership, and data science. “We’ve been very busy,” says Lin. “In 2021, we’ll be continuing to invest in curating and offering content in high-demand subject areas. More leadership and communication courses are coming, in addition to courses in nonprofit startup and grant writing.”

“Our approach to noncredit, skills-focused instruction is designed for busy professionals,” notes Dr. Barry Sugarman, dean of the School of Lifelong Learning. “Participants complete Learning Paths composed of engaging, self-paced micro-courses, fully supporting anywhere, anytime learning.”

A Familiar Online Learning Experience

The School of Lifelong Learning’s user-friendly, e-commerce-style platform makes registering for courses fast and simple. What’s more, the supportive, immersive learning experience—threaded with rich-media elements like video and audio—mirrors that of Walden’s online degree programs. “All courses are designed by our PhD-level faculty,” Lin says. “Although they’re not faculty led, they’re faculty supported. Students can reach out anytime with questions.”

Added Assurance in Uncertain Times

In the midst of a global pandemic and economic upheaval, upskilling is especially relevant. The School of Lifelong Learning provides Walden alumni with a convenient, affordable way to brush up on their knowledge and stay competitive and agile in the changing job market.

“We’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘How can we better support and engage our graduates when they’re not actively pursuing a degree?’” Lin says. “The School of Lifelong Learning is just one more way for us to provide what our alumni need at every step of their journey.”

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