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Improving Enrollment with D2L’s Continuing Education Solutions

  • 5 Min Read

Continuing education programs can help set your university apart from higher education institutions that haven’t adapted to the changing needs of the modern student.


Today’s universities face a continuing problem with declining enrollment. As inflation raises the cost of living and drives people to prioritize essentials, fewer are willing to take on the expense of a two- or four-year degree program

Many students also want or need flexible options for education. They prefer to learn on their own schedules and at their own pace, choosing where and when to engage with higher education as it fits their lifestyle. 

Offering flexible noncredit courses and credentials through a continuing education program meets these nontraditional learners’ needs, counteracting declining enrollment and setting your university apart from institutions that haven’t adapted to the changing student preferences.

Continuing Education: The Solution for Nontraditional Learners

Continuing education credentials from accredited universities give students of all ages and stages of life access to programs that improve their personal and professional skills. On resumes, these credentials show a willingness to learn and grow. On the job, they support job advancement and enable career changes as new opportunities arise. 

Through continuing education, students may complete: 

  • micro-credentials
  • certificate programs
  • upskilling or reskilling courses 
  • competency-based learning paths

Each option enables students to access university-level courses and develop critical skill sets without enrolling in a full course load.

Finding a Competitive Edge With Continuing Ed at Southern Illinois University 

Learn how a unique approach to content and course offerings helped Southern Illinois University stand out in the continuing education field.

Learn more

Implementing Continuing Education with D2L 

The challenge? Finding a single platform that works with your university’s technology and makes it easy to develop and market a continuing education program. 

When Michael Crowe, VP of Academic at Bow Valley College in Calgary, Alberta, faced this challenge, he turned to D2L for help.

“We struggled to find a holistic solution with other vendors,” he told D2L in a recent interview. “We really needed a platform that brought industry learners and our college programming together. And D2L Brightspace was the tech solution we needed.”

Brightspace: The Core of Continuing Education 

As Crowe discovered, Brightspace offers comprehensive solutions to the problems universities face when choosing and implementing new technologies: 

  • seamless plug-and-play setup that integrate with existing systems
  • templates and workflows to simplify content creation 
  • support for noncredit courses and programs that cater to all learners 
  • personalized skill paths for competency-based programs 
  • mobile-friendly interface for on-the-go learning 
  • detailed analytics and progress tracking for educators 
  • built-in automatic certificate issuing

These solutions allow you to create customized continuing education programs and deliver them directly through your university’s existing digital system. This keeps things consistent for learners and makes it easier for faculty to monitor progress across courses. 

D2L Course Merchant: Manage Course Marketing and Sales 

Managing enrollment for continuing education programs requires more than a learning platform. Students searching for flexible programs want an easy enrollment experience and quick access to courses on their schedules. 

Course Merchant integrates with Brightspace to offer a modern shopping experience through a branded enrollment platform. Think of it as a virtual storefront where nontraditional learners can window shop for educational offerings to suit their needs. Using Course Merchant, you can create a customized course catalog that allows students to choose the combination of courses, certificate programs, and micro-credentials that meet their needs.

D2L Course Merchant

For Crowe, Course Merchant was a game changer. “Between Course Merchant and Brightspace, D2L met all of the technology needs that we had end-to-end for our continuing education program.” 

Features like “Buy Now” buttons for social media simplify the registration process. When students discover a course they want to take, the link brings them directly from the ad to the sign-up page, where they can self-enroll and take advantage of deals like discount codes or “early bird” pricing. 

With Course Merchant, you can reach students on the platforms they already use and deliver immediate access to courses that can advance their careers. This addresses the challenge of marketing continuing education courses to diverse groups of learners.

D2L Learning Services: Course Development for Continuing Education Success 

But for continuing education to truly meet students’ needs, the learning experience must provide the outcomes they want. Through Learning Services, D2L provides the guidance universities need to create and implement programs focused on student success.

According to Higher Ed Dive, many educators would like to implement continuing education but struggle to find time to develop and run flexible programs. With Learning Services as your guide, you can shorten the time between planning and implementing a customized continuing education program and start seeing enrollments sooner.

The Learning Services team is made up of instructional design experts well-versed in Brightspace. They’re ready to help design and implement a learning experience that allows universities and students to get the most out of every course offered through the Brightspace platform. Starting with a plan aligned with your goals, they take you through the development process from start to finish so you’re set for ongoing success.

A Partner in Continuing Education 

Tools like Brightspace, Course Merchant and Learning Services enable your higher education institution to provide up-to-date continuing education opportunities that meet the needs of changing markets. With the flexibility to provide a variety of individual and stackable credentials, you can create a valuable resource for learners that supports enrollment and provides your institution with a previously untapped revenue stream. 

Universities and colleges who don’t adapt to the changing needs of their full-time students and who fail to offer nontraditional learners what they’re looking for will continue to face declining enrollment and lose out on potential revenue streams. Developing engaging, supportive continuing education programs is one way that institutions can remain competitive and gain a reputation as a valuable community resource that students return to again and again to improve their skills and advance their careers.

Crowe and the team at Bow Valley College saw firsthand how helpful it can be to have a partner like D2L on board to help create a program that addresses the unique needs of nontraditional learners: “A three-year exercise in frustration became a three-month pathway to success once we started to work with D2L.”

Ready to boost enrollments with continuing ed? Request a demo to see how D2L’s custom solutions can help you successfully set up and scale your lifelong learning programs. 

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Table of Contents
  1. Continuing Education: The Solution for Nontraditional Learners
  2. Implementing Continuing Education with D2L 
  3. Brightspace: The Core of Continuing Education 
  4. D2L Course Merchant: Manage Course Marketing and Sales 
  5. D2L Learning Services: Course Development for Continuing Education Success 
  6. A Partner in Continuing Education