The two terms are often used interchangeably. Many people will refer to an adult education course as a continuing educational course and other people will refer to a continuing educational course as an adult learning course. While these terms are often used in place of each other they are not the same type of course. In fact, there are many differences between the two types of course.
The similarities between adult educational courses and continuing education courses include that they are both courses that are designed and attended by adults and they are usually offered nights and weekends to accommodate adult’s working schedules. However, the similarities end there.
Adult education is really a term for courses that are designed for adults that teach basic remedial lessons. These courses are usually used for adults who wish to gain a high school diploma or GED certificate. These courses are also usually held at the local high school or through a university or college.
The term continuing education is used for classes that are designed for adults to further their existing education. There are a number of different types of continuing educational courses from those that are designed for specific professions and used to keep their knowledge up to date to classes that are used by adults to gain a basic knowledge or understanding. Depending upon the type of continuing education course that you are taking the classes can be offered at the local college or university as is the case with those that are profession specific, or the courses can be held at the local library or community center when they are designed for obtaining knowledge.
Overall, the difference between continuing education and adult education comes down to exactly what type of knowledge and course materials are covered. Adult education courses offer remedial classes while continuing education courses offer skill specific courses.