As the fall schedule of continuing education classes at Howard Payne University gets under way, six “Saturday Seminars” on various topics — and lasting only one to three hours — are scheduled this weekend.

“Continuing education — it’s so exciting to watch it change,” Pat Locks, continuing education coordinator at HPU, said Wednesday. “It’s so fun to watch the interest level. At one time, these classes were limited mostly to hobbies, but now many of them have lots of substance.”

The short-course seminars Saturday morning range from self-defense and autism to bicycling and making money by being a disc jockey, Locks said. Instruction on staying healthy with herbs and raising goats in this area will also be offered.

A new class on a topic of particular interest to Americans given current events will also begin next week. “Understanding Islam: Contemporary Issues” taught by Eric Morrow will start at 6:30 p.m. Monday in Room 106 of the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom. Two-hour sessions will run through Oct. 15, opening with an introduction to historical topics and events that influence contemporary issues in Islam. The class will continue with sessions on Muslims in America, fundamentalism, women is Islam, Christian-Muslim relatives and Islam and democracy. Cost will be $45.

Another course opening on Monday will be an introduction to computers, taught by Mary Hill, covering basic computer concepts, operations and components of the computer. Instruction will include the Windows environment, search techniques and use of the Internet. The 90-minutes sessions will continue through Oct. 1.

Hill will also teach a course on Word 2007, the latest version of the Microsoft Office software that is expected to become the standard text program for millions of users within a few months. The cost will be $45. Sessions will begin on Monday and continue through Oct. 1.

Dr Les Plagens will be the instructor for the first of a five-part entreprenueurial series from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. This first session, “Developing a Business Plan,” will provide the framework for preparing and presenting a professional business plan. Future sessions will be held Oct. 2, Oct. 23, Nov. 13 and at another date to be announced, all at the Early Economic Development Corpora-tion facility at 104 East Industrial Dr., Early. Advance registration costs $25, and registration at the door will be $30 for an individual or a couple. Future classes will be on obtaining financing, insurance and risk management, accounting with QuickBooks and marketing.

Another new course, on international folk dancing taught by Marie Clarkson, will be held from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. beginning Oct. 2 at the First Baptist Church Activity Center. The class will explore folk dances from a variety of regions with a focus on eastern Europe and Israel. It will begin with single line dances that will form the basis of more advanced dances. No partner or prior experience is needed.

“We are having some fabulous responses to our continuing education classes this semester,” Lock said. “A lot of people are coming in saying even though they’re getting older, they want to keep learning.”

The Saturday Seminar classes this weekend will all be held at Newman Hall, behind the Academy of Freedom, and each costs $10. They are as follows:

Healthy Ways with Herbs — 9 to 11 a.m., Newman Hall 136. Instructor Joyce Davis. Self-Defense — 9 a.m. to noon, Newman Hall, first floor commons. Instructor Stan Pena. Autism: A Guide for Parents — 9 to 11 a.m., Newman Hall Room 132. Instructor Dr. Robert Tucker. Central Texas Goat Raising — 9 to 10 a.m., Newman Hall 114. Instructor Barbara Rodgers. Basics of Bicycling — 9 to 11 a.m., 9 to 11 a.m., Newman Hall to be announced, follow signs. Instructor Sergio Herbert. How to be a DJ and Make Money — 10 a.m. to noon, Newman Hall to be announced, follow signs. Instructor Dr. Jim McClusky.