In August and September, many youth and adults think about their continuing education as they return to school. But for some, in-person classes are not possible, due to schedules, timing and more.
Instead, she started taking NeighborWorks America's self-guided courses and last September, earned her NCHEC certification. "Some of the classes were more of a refresher, but I found the advanced foreclosure practicum the most helpful. Even though I do not do a lot of foreclosure counseling, the way that course was set up with the homework and classes over the span of a few weeks helped me to retain and actively use the information that was provided to me."
NeighborWorks averages more than 350 registrations for self-guided courses per month and sees more than 4,200 people taking these online courses each year. The financial capability, housing education and counseling track makes up 85% of all self-guided registrations.
Cormac Molloy NeighborWorks’ senior manager for training programs, attributes the popularity to several things, including NeighborWorks and industry certification requirements, preparation for HUD certification and more.
"Self-guided is great for folks who want something more in-depth than an interactive webinar but cannot access an in-person training or our multi-week faculty-led online courses," explains Molloy. Those who prefer self-directed learning include individuals with limited time or those who want to take training outside average workday hours.
There are always new courses, too. Molloy worked with Ann DiPetta to design a course exploring the digital divide. In the course, individuals learn the definition of the digital divide, understand "high speed" and device access, available federal programs and more.
DiPetta has seen the disparity caused by the digital divide herself. "It helps, experiencing it from the other side. And then coming to terms with the idea of how to make this equitable in a situation like the pandemic when we had to provide services virtually."
Douglas Sessions, NeighborWorks’ new senior vice president of training, says NeighborWorks aspires to be the premier provider of professional learning opportunities like these in connection with comprehensive community development. "We are proud to work hand in hand with our faculty and the philanthropic and corporate partners that support our work and the work of our network affiliates and their members."
DiPetta adds, "Equity and justice are on our minds." It's not just about developing a new class but having a deeper understanding. For the digital divide course specifically, "It's about more than just getting people connected. It's about educating them about some of the best practices for doing so."
Offering both online and in-person training opportunities is an equalizer, too, says DiPetta. Why? It allows for flexibility.
Sessions agrees. "As NeighborWorks continues to ‘future proof’ its professional learning, self-guided training (and all other forms of digital learning) will play a key role. "It is part of our ambition to make NeighborWorks professional learning accessible in as many formats as possible to accommodate the needs of practitioners."
Interested in what NeighborWorks has to offer?
- Check out self-guided courses – good for individuals with limited time who prefer to learn on their own schedule; takes approximately 2-4 hours per course.
- Check out faculty-led courses – good for individuals who want an online option but want more interaction and engagement from a faculty member and fellow learners; takes approximately 4 hours per week over the course of 4 weeks.
- Check out interactive webinars – good for individuals who want a mix of the above; takes approximately 90 minutes and features instruction from an expert faculty member.