Saturday, 7 September 2013

New Beginnings - Learn a new skill from home with E-Learning

I love September.  Not only because the air is crisp and the leaves turn a beautiful colour, not because I can dig out my big jumpers and hide the excess flesh which has been on show all summer, but because the air is full of new beginnings.

Kid's return or start school, college or university and the shops are full of gorgeous stationery to accommodate their needs - my idea of heaven.

My challenge for this month is 'To Learn Something New' and there really is no better month to start this in.  I have a bucket list the length of my arm of what I would love to learn; photography, Italian, painting, knitting...the list if endless.

But what if you would love to learn a new skill, retrain or advance your education but you work full time, have nine children, three cats and a ferret to look after?  The answer is simple:-
  • Distance Learning
I love learning new things and I have taken a number of correspondence courses over the years.  When my children were very small it was so easy to put them to bed and then work on an assignment all with the aim of gaining a qualification or new skill.

It isn't a new phenomenon either; learning through weekly mailed lessons dates back to 1728 when a short hand teacher, Caleb Phillips, saw an ad in the Boston Gazette which prompted him to look for students using a correspondence course.

When I was at college I learnt the Pitman version of short hand and it's founder, Isaac Pitman also taught his lessons in the UK via correspondence in the 1840's.  The University of London was the first to offer distance degrees in 1858 and by 2008 there were 44 states in America offering online learning programs.

So what's so good about distance learning?
  • You can work with an accredited school anywhere in the world.
  • It offers relief from the high cost of education.  You can take a postgraduate course and save a significant amount of money.
  • Distance learning expands access to training for businesses or education for the general public.
  • If you have a disability and are unable to attend a traditional school then this is the perfect way to obtain a good education.
  • There are no restrictions to learning should you live in a rural area.  The University of Queensland began correspondence courses in 1911 to reach students living in remote areas.
Learning at home may be a lonely past time but most correspondence courses use a variety of materials from textbooks to online resources and include forums where students can meet and interact.

The Open University offer Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Research Degrees and Short Courses in a wide variety of subjects.

If a degree course is not for you then take a look at Mumsnet who have a wonderful selection of courses for all the mums out there who want to learn new skills.  They offer online courses in starting your own business and edible gardening made easy, or mini courses in DIY or taking beautiful photographs of your kids.

I am currently working through a Writers' News Home Study Course with one-to-one feedback from an incredible tutor.  I can do it at my own pace, no pressure and have backup and advice at the click of a button. 

Don't put it off any longer, the kids have started their next educational adventure so why can't we?

What would you love to learn? 
Have you completed an online course? What was it like?


  1. Not quite e-learning, but I studied for my degree "Open University" style with Reading University. Course work, and I think around four weeks attendance at lectures & then exams. The costs were a fraction of actually attending a uni.
    You need discipline (glue on seat!). Good luck with whatever your Writers' News course.

  2. Thanks for your feedback, you are right it certainly does take discipline and you obviously have buckets of it to complete your degree, congratulations. I enjoy short courses as I have a serious lack of discipline, I also have trouble staying still for long! At least with my writing course I can take my pad and pen with me! :-)