In an era of advanced technology and increasing use of the Internet, there is no reason massage therapists and bodyworkers should feel uncomfortable about considering a continuing education course that takes place online. Many of today’s Web-based classes offer a high-quality learning experience that is equally useful to those courses taught in traditional classrooms.

Of course it is important to practice discernment as you go about choosing an online continuing education class. As with almost any aspect of life, some of these courses are top notch and others may be sub par. If you are unsure about a certain continuing education class, do your homework to find out where it ranks on the quality scale before spending your money to sign up.

One way of investigating these online continuing education classes is by doing a bit of Web research on the teacher and the company providing the course. You want to know these providers are respectable sources of knowledge in the field of massage therapy or bodywork. If you are looking into continuing education classes to help fulfill a requirement for continuing education credits, you also will need to know that the class you choose is an approved provider, so that the credits will count.

With this preliminary research complete, you will be free to select an online continuing education course. In order to “attend” these Web-based classes, you will need access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. Also, be sure to find out if the class is synchronous or asynchronous, as this will tell you whether you will need to “attend” according to a schedule or if you can take care of tests and class work whenever  you want.

Synchronous online classes have more structured time tables, including schedules for when students need to log on, watch or listen to lectures, complete and turn in homework, participate in online class discussions via chat forums, take tests and so on. With a more asynchronous online class, some or all of the above tasks may take place on a flexible schedule.

Whether your class is synchronous or asynchronous, you still stand to reap the benefits of online continuing education in terms of the time you will save by not having to travel back and forth from traditional classes, along with the money you will save on fuel.

However, before you lock in to your decision and enroll in an online continuing education class, consider whether you will be able to best learn the lessons taught in the course via computer, or whether you would be better off learning in a traditional classroom.

Everyone is different, so you will need to be completely honest with yourself about your own learning style and capacity. Often, massage therapists and bodyworkers choose to enroll in traditional continuing education classes when the subject is a hands-on modality or specific touch technique.

Many massage therapists and bodyworkers feel more comfortable taking online continuing education classes when the subject is more cerebral, such as marketing or ethics.

–Brandi Schlossberg