Many people instantly associate the word “education” with school, but the amount of options for further education and training outside of traditional College or University hours are growing. With the emergence of Distance Learning, Open University and Virtual Learning environments there are more options available for adult learners than ever before. We aim to guide you to personal development heaven, ensuring you find the perfect way to broaden your horizons in 2014.
1: Be clear on your aims
People embark on further education courses for a wide variety of reasons, whether it be career change, clinching a promotion or simply just an interest course that has taken your fancy. Before you start your search be clear on your motive for starting the course and your expectations after completion. Interest courses are the perfect way to brush up on your knowledge and also an enjoyable way to spend your spare time. The level to which you complete an interest course should not be the priority, content is key as your motivation will be generated from how stimulating you find the materials. A course for career development must have more focus on course level and awarding bodies that are relevant to your particular line of work.
2: Shop around
Shopping around is essential when making any purchase, but becomes particularly important when choosing which provider you would most like to learn with. Any respectable education and training provider will be represented on some form of review site such as Trustpilot or Reviewcentre, this is a great tool to read about other students experiences and will aid you in your final decision making process. The current economic status dictates the price sensitivity of the consumer, but don’t always be tempted by the cheapest, reviews will help you determine a good price vs quality ratio.
3: Awarding Bodies are key
Awarding bodies can be confusing, and there a wide variety that apply for different types of courses. Some providers may not even have accreditation from an awarding body and ensuring that they do should be your first port of call. Essentially, awarding bodies ensure that the quality of materials offered by an education provider are of satisfactory quality. External verifiers will often be sent from the awarding bodies to the providers to create reports on the quality of service and materials provided, these reports can in most cases be requested by consumers. Some of the main awarding bodies include, AQA, NCFE, Ascentis and CIEH.
4: Ask for samples
The majority of providers will have samples of their courses that are available for viewing by potential learners. This will not only give you an idea of the quality of the content but will also help you gauge the format of the course.
5: Pre plan your time management
The amount of time needed to complete a course will depend on a number of variables such as learning speed of the individual and course level. Ask a provider for an estimate on the amount of hours needed to complete the course, this will make it easy for you to assess whether you will have sufficient time to complete the course. An example of this would be a 200 hour level 3 diploma, which may initially sound daunting but when broken down, would only require 4 hours per week over a 12 month period.
The number of courses available out there is growing daily, and there is something for every individual. Spending some time researching and evaluating your options will be beneficial to you once embarking on your learning experience. Best of luck with your search!