Monday, February 20, 2017

Distance Learning and Online Courses - My Experiences

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Hi!

I've been a stay-at-home parent for a number of years now. It's good and bad in equal measure - I love that I get to see my children grow up, I love that I'm here for them, I love pottering about the house doing cooking and organising, but I hate that I've lost that little bit of independence and interaction with adults. I hate that I don't have a Christmas party anymore and I hate that in spite of the fact I'm constantly doing something for someone else from 6:30am-8:30pm that I have to say "I'm not working at the moment" when someone asks where I work.

One of the things I like to do to make sure that I'm still Sharon and not just "Mammyyyyyyyy" is to keep up to date with skills and interests. I've done a few online courses - one fairly expensive one, one bargain one, and a few free ones.

Paid Course - Nail Technician with Kilroy's College



This was a 12 month course done via online and distance learning. At the time I did it, it cost nearly €500. I paid a deposit and then paid monthly installments (I think they were around €45 at the time). It's still €495 here.

Materials Provided
Text book, starter kit (included buffer, tweezers, base coat, top coat, nail art brush, a few shades of nail polish, etc)

Content
Health and Safety, Nail Art, Business Management, Manicure & Pedicure, Anatomy & Physiology, Advanced Treatments.

How it Works
Your first module is sent in the post - essentially a workbook that you have to read through, and then answer the questions at the end. When you do that, you need to log your answers online. If you pass, you get your next module sent out. This is what I did the whole way through - not once did I interact with any tutor or have any human input. It was me, alone, with my workbook. I was particularly annoyed at the nail art module - I assumed that there would be the need to submit photographs or some kind of proof that I was taking the information in - but no, just the multiple choice questions at the end of that module. There were suggestions made in the workbook as to how to expand each module but it was very much left up to the student.

Certificate?
Yes, I was sent out a certificate at the end when I passed all modules.

Beneficial?
Not really. I could probably see the benefit if I were already in the profession and wanted to brush up on a certain area, but it didn't cover Shellac or Gel treatments, nor did it leave me feeling any the wiser about how to attempt to do somebody's nails. I learned a bit, but not €500 worth.

Bargain Course - Diploma in Photography with Shaw Academy



I picked this up on a Groupon deal for about €25. I wasn't expecting it to be as in-depth - all I wanted was to be able to understand my DSLR camera a little better and stop relying on Auto mode so much. This was a 10 week course with live webinars and homework. It's priced at €395 but pops up regularly on Groupon for around €20-€25. Info here.

Materials Provided
None, strictly an online course. You need your own camera.

Content
Demystifying camera functions, Capturing the light, Motion and depth, Composition, White balance, Shutter speed & Aperture.

How it Works
When you enrol, you are given a choice of dates to start. Pick one that suits you, then you'll get an email or text telling you when your first live Webinar is. If you can't attend, you can watch back on demand. During the Webinar, one of the tutors goes through the lesson plan and invites participation. Questions are welcomed, then there's an exercise given at the end. You're encouraged to practice and share your images with the course tutor via the Shaw Academy social media pages, and you can use these to interact with others on your course. The tutor also rang me on a few occasions to see if I was up to date with Webinars and to check and see if I had any difficulties or issues with any of the modules.

Certificate?
I don't think they're automatically sent, I think you have the option of purchasing one. I didn't get one.

Beneficial?
Absolutely - I learned loads about how to use my camera and what makes a good photograph. I still put some of the tips into practice whenever I take blog photographs - the rule of thirds, perspective, natural framing, etc - I found it really interesting and useful (even if I still tend to rely on Auto a bit too often)

You can choose a free course from the Shaw Academy here - there are a great range of courses, including this photography one, nutrition, social media marketing, photoshop, lightroom, digital marketing, graphic design, beauty, viral marketing, guitar - loads to choose from.

Free Course - Identifying the Dead: Forensic Science and Human Identification with the University of Dundee via FutureLearn



This was a course I did last year - it involved author Val McDermid and took students on a journey from the discovery of a human bone right up to identifying the victim and finding out how they died. Register your interest here.

Materials Provided
Downloadable worksheets and print-outs.

Content
An introduction to the world of forensic anthropology, including biological profiling and reconstruction.

How it Works
I think it was over 7 weeks - at the start, we were all introduced to the specialists who would be working on the case. There were YouTube videos to watch, printouts to fill in, and discussions online with other participants. Then, at the beginning of the next lesson, we'd be told whether or not we were right (about a particular bone type, for example) and given some more information to try and decipher. At the end, we were given access to an exclusive story written by Val McDermid featuring the victim.

Beneficial?
I'm not ready to go out and investigate anything, but as someone who has always had an interest in forensics and crime, it was wonderful to have access to the professional people who worked on this course. I learned a lot about how forensics works at its lowest level, and how much work goes into even determining what kind of bone is found, let alone discovering who the victim is and what happened. It was really enjoyable. Some parts hit close to home too, like the exercise we were given on missing persons - it was horrendous to imagine one of our loved ones going missing, but also a lesson in how unobservant we can be - lots of us couldn't remember exactly what our loved ones were even wearing when we last saw them.

So what's next? Well...


Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation - The Open University via FutureLearn



Hosted by Graham Pike, Psychologist & Professor of Forensic Cognition at the Open University. This is a free online course beginning on March 20. Register here

Materials Provided
No physical materials provided.

Content
Exploring how the limitations of the human mind can lead to miscarriages of justice. Examining eyewitness testimonies, going behind the scenes of a police investigation to see if you can solve a crime using only eyewitness statements. Building your cognitive skills. 

How it Works
You register your interest, then you'll get an email nearer the time. When the course starts, you'll be able to log in and see your course materials. It's an 8 week course. 

Beneficial?
I'll let you know!

Upcoming free courses on FutureLearn include: An Introduction to Dutch, How to Succeed at Interviews, Modern Building Design, Talking About Cancer, Research Ethics in Society, The Many Faces of Dementia, Exploring Copyright, Archaeology, Cyber Security for Small Business - that's only a handful of a huge variety. 

Have you ever done an online course? Or would you consider one? 




4 comments:

  1. This is really interesting, I need to re-register for the next forensics one, I have some serious interest in crime solving lately so this should scratch the itch!

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  2. It was nice hearing your thoughts on this.

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  3. I'd love to do the make up artist course with kilroys but it would it be beneficial or just a waste of money ?

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  4. The online courses are like a big boon to the learners. The practical, informative best courses provides best inclusive education. Thanks for the post; it is really amazing to know about this. Thank you for sharing a valuable content on online courses. The easy sign up process is what i like the most.

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