Relevant terms and definitions associated with noncredit continuing education offerings.
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Continuing Education Glossary

Explore the world of noncredit continuing education with our glossary of relevant terms and definitions. From diverse delivery formats to the intricacies of learning structures, to the various ways your achievements are recognized and the significance of professional credits, this guide is your key to understanding the landscape of educational opportunities.


Ways of Learning

We believe in offering flexibility to match your learning style, ensuring an educational experience that suits you best. Discover a diverse array of learning formats, each crafted to meet your unique needs. Whether you prefer immersive online courses or dynamic in-person workshops, this section invites you to explore the different ways you can access learning.

Delivery Formats

  • In-Person: conducted face-to-face, with students physically present in a designated location
  • Online: delivered through digital platforms, allowing students to participate remotely via the internet
  • Virtual: an online environment that simulates a traditional classroom, facilitating real-time interaction and engagement
  • Hybrid: a mix of in-person and digital (online or virtual) delivery styles
Learning Structure
  • Synchronous: structured schedule with learning activities often occurring in real-time, where students engage simultaneously through live sessions or lectures
  • Asynchronous: may have a structured schedule for release of content and assessment, but learning activities are not usually bound by a specific scheduled time allowing students more flexibility
    • typically involves delayed communication where participation may occur through discussion forums, email, or other asynchronous means
    • generally does not require real-time interaction
  • Self-Paced: also referred to as on-demand, learning that allows students to progress through the material at their own speed, without set deadlines
    • typically involves a window of time to complete, but does not include rigid deadlines within that window

Badges and Certificates

Digital badges and certificates serve as tangible evidence of acquired training and knowledge. The criteria for earning them may vary depending on the specific offering. Each award may correspond to a certain number of professional development credit. Noncredit offerings are usually associated with professional development credit or personal enrichment, granting CEUs, CEHs, PDCs, Clock Hours, or proof of completion. These offerings are not to be confused with credit courses that carry college credit for individuals working towards the completion of a degree.

Digital Badge

A uniquely valuable digital credential, validated by the University of Wisconsin-Stout, showcasing mastery of specific knowledge or skills. UW-Stout provides different types of badges, each denoted by a banner across the badge:

  • Competency: a measurable and/or observable knowledge, skill, or ability (KSA). Competencies may stand alone or be combined to meet the requirements of a micro-credential or certificate.
    • Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs): A single and specific knowledge unit, skill, or ability that has been demonstrated and assessed. May be recognized as a Competency on a badge.
  • Course, Training, or Workshop: Learning experience on a defined topic with KSA outcomes that are demonstrated and assessed.
  • Micro-Credential: A combination of demonstrated and assessed KSAs that align with workforce or societal needs, such as courses, trainings, or workshops. Micro-credentials:
    • May lead to a certificate.
    • May include experiences designed to support or enhance the KSAs.  
  • Certificate: A set of well-defined learning outcomes focused on advancing knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that can be applied to a practical problem or issue. Typically designed in response to specific employer or societal needs.
  • Apprenticeship: demonstrated completion of both related instruction and work experience through an approved Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development apprenticeship program. 

Certificate (Digital or Physical)

Earned through the successful completion of a comprehensive offering or a collection of courses/badges demonstrating mastery of skills and knowledge. Earning methods vary by offering; check your offering of interest for details. Certificates may also be used to document proof of completion or award of CEUs, CEHs, PDCs, or Clock Hours.

Professional Credits

Unlike degree-seeking credits, Continuing Education provides noncredit learning options with professional development credit. These credits can contribute to recertification or re-licensure. Options include:

Continuing Education Unit (CEU)

A nationally recognized measure for documenting participation in noncredit professional development. One hour of continuing education instruction equals 0.1 CEUs. As an illustration, a six-hour workshop equals 0.6 CEUs.

Continuing Education Hour (CEH)

Similar to the CEU, a widely accepted measure for tracking engagement in noncredit professional development. Each hour of continuing education instruction equals 1.0 CEHs. For example, a six-hour workshop equals 6.0 CEHs.

CEU/CEH Information by Profession
  • Wisconsin Licensed Social Workers
    Our programs qualify as continuing education offered by an accredited university.
  • Wisconsin Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists
    Our programs qualify as continuing education offered by an accredited university.
  • Wisconsin Licensed Professional Counselors
    Our programs qualify as continuing education offered by an accredited university.
  • Wisconsin Substance Abuse Counselors
    Programs qualify as continuing education courses with relevant subject matter taught by qualified presenters.
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
    Programs from the University of Wisconsin campuses may qualify towards your Professional Development Plans (PDPs).
  • Other Professions
    Contact your professional board or organization for specific continuing education requirements. 

Professional Development Credit (PDC)

A measure for recording participation in noncredit professional development for SHRM credential holders. One hour of continuing education instruction equals 1.0 PDCs. For example, a six-hour workshop equals 6.0 PDCs.

Clock Hours

A "clock hour" refers to an hour of actual instruction or a planned group or individual professional development activity approved by the local continuing education/re-licensure committee.