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Editorial: More crucial than ever, midstate's continuing ed is evolving

Successful business leaders know that education never ends — not for their employees and especially not for themselves. But as the pace of change continues to accelerate and time demands make it increasingly harder to pursue learning in a formal setting, knowing where and how to acquire critical knowledge becomes a skill in and of itself.

Fortunately, the midstate benefits from a range of education options that includes community college campuses, public and private institutions of higher learning, tech schools and individuals eager to share what they know. Whether you're interested in updating a skill, solving a specific problem or acquiring a degree, your needs can be met.

Wisely, the traditional sources of these opportunities are responding to businesses' needs. No longer ivory towers, they are reaching out into the business community to craft programs more in line with the business world's needs. Like businesses themselves, they are listening to the marketplace.

As our interviews for this special issue on Continuing Education in the Midstate illustrate, the region's educators are focusing more on job readiness for their graduates. They are not only customizing the classroom experience but also taking it out into the workplace.

Like businesses, educators are facing increasing customer demand for results even as competition for their products is increasing. Online learning has exploded. Once students could only take a course, or components of a course, online as part of a full-degree curriculum. Now the massive open online course — the MOOC — has come on the scene; in these, enrollees can earn skills certificates from world-ranked universities for free or at a fraction of the customary cost.

Employers will be seeing these certificates on resumes increasingly as MOOCs become more accepted and proven.

Another resource available to business leaders in the midstate are peer groups. Experience is the best teacher, the saying goes, and in the peer setting, participants share their challenges and perplexities so that everyone in the group benefits and grows.

Innovation is both the heart and brains of business success. And innovation thrives on the sharing and discussion of ideas — whether it's learning the newest technology in a machine shop, mastering best practices in management theory in a college classroom setting or sharpening a skill through helping others in the same boat as you.

When it comes to all those learning resources, the midstate is making the grade.

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