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Adult education program finds it pays to modernize

Placer School for Adults offering a growing list of tech-based classes
By: ANDREW WESTROPE, Journal Staff Writer
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To learn more
What: Placer School for Adults free counseling workshop
When: 5-7 p.m. Jan. 23
What: Open house
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 24. 
Info: placeronline.org or call (530) 885-8585.
 

Placer School for Adults will begin its spring semester next week with a growing catalogue of technology-based classes to meet its students’ increased demand for technical skills.

The school’s spring catalogue lists more than 30 classes in technology education alone, including software training, digital photography courses, mobile device tutorials, computer skill workshops and others, plus classes on technical professions and tech-based marketing techniques. 
 
Principal Bill Bettencourt said the technology program is probably the school’s largest and still growing with demand.
 
“People are not just interested in Microsoft Office suite. They know how to do word processing, they know a little bit about Excel … but there’s so much more technology than just the Microsoft Office package, and you’ll see a lot of that in our catalogue,” he said, “things that go beyond basic applications.”
 
Computer Program Director Arij Mousa said she has noticed a rising interest in classes on social media and mobile devices this semester. Many courses introduced over the past several years have been based on business-related technologies or the connection between social and business potential, like social media marketing and online branding.
 
Bettencourt believes growing enrollment in these classes stems from the fact that business owners increasingly see the need for tech-savvy marketing, bookkeeping and customer relations. Mousa added that tech courses are popular because they land at the crux of business training and personal interest.
 
“Small businesses are looking for different ways to promote their business online through social media that they haven’t done it in the past, and now they’re hearing about it, and they want to explore what it is and how they can use it for business,” she said.
 
The other major factor, according to Mousa, is a growing range of jobs in technical fields.
 
“I have been meeting with people who were retired, and they’re going back to school now to get back into the workforce,” she said. “I’ve got people who were laid off that are looking for jobs in technology and computers. So we do have some career certificate programs under the technology program, as well as under the health program, so yes, I am seeing an increased number of people wanting to pursue technology fields.”
 
The school has also continued to add online courses as they’ve gained popularity over the past several years.
 
The school will not have official enrollment figures until classes start on Jan. 23, but enrollment continues throughout the semester, as some of the courses repeat in small cycles. Mousa said some of the newest courses, such as the iPad class, are already full but may reopen in more sections if demand is high enough. Like the technology on which it provides instruction, the school evolves according to the needs of its customers.
 
“I visit the classes at the beginning when they first start, and then I visit them again at the end, and I talk with the students and ask what they would like to see us offer the next semester, where would they like to go from here,” said Mousa. “So we take this feedback and input and we put it into a class, and it fills, so believe it or not, it’s all feedback from the community. We take their feedback and we make it happen.”