Would you like to do an interest course or study for a qualification to improve your career options – but think it’s just not possible due to the ever increasing demands on your time? With a full-time job, childcare, commuting and the rest, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to attend even a part-time course.
If this sounds like you, then Distance Learning may be the answer. Think of it, you could study for that degree in History you’ve always wanted to do, or get that childcare qualification you need – at a pace that suits you and from the comfort of your own home. The only requirement is a personal computer (in most cases) and some degree of self discipline.
How does Distance Learning work?
Distance Learning is at is sounds – you learn at a distance from the college, on your own and in your own time. While it is the same as any other course in that you read course material and write assignments; it is different in that the course material is sent to you through the post or online, and attendance is limited to occasional seminars and workshops. If this all sounds good so far but you are worried by the thought of being completely alone in this endeavour, don’t be! Distance learning is also ‘supported learning’ in that you will usually have a tutor assigned to you -who is available to provide help, give feedback and grade assignments.
What type of qualification will I get?
Distance Learning through a recognised education provider generally works on a modular basis. This means that for every module or section of a course you study, you receive credits. Once you have achieved a sufficient amount of credits you will be awarded a Certificate, Diploma or Degree. The level of qualification you achieve and the length of time it takes is up to you. You could work towards a degree over 3 or 4 years, or simply study subjects that appeal to you on a more leisurely basis.
Distance Learning Providers
Since Adult Education has become a booming business in Ireland, there are now more Distance Learning colleges and courses available than ever before. Some of the more mainstream providers are as follows:
This college has a long and distinguished history as one of the leading providers of Distance Learning Education in Ireland. Offers nationally recognised QQI certification. Has a dedicated team of student advisors and tutors.
The Open University
Probably the best known, and for a long time the only provider of Distance Learning, the Open University offers over 600 courses in a variety of areas. Recognised worldwide, courses are available in a variety of fields from Humanities to Engineering.
Perhaps the Irish version of the Open University but on a smaller scale, Oscail was set up and is accredited by Dublin City University. They currently offer diplomas and degrees in Nursing, Arts, Science and IT, in addition to some post graduate options.
Many Universities now offer some Distance Learning options as part of their adult learning programmes. NUIG for example, offers a Diploma/Degree in Social Care (amongst others), while the National College or Ireland, offers a Degree in Human Resource Management. If there is a specific course you are interested in, your local University is often a good first port of call.
There are a number private Distance Learning Colleges in Ireland, offering a whole range of courses and options. Some like the College of Progressive Education are specialised in the type of courses they offer (Childcare/Montessori), while others offer much wider range of options.
When choosing a Distance Learning course, it is important to consider the following:
Is Distance Learning for you? – are you the type of person who can study at home under your own steam? It will involve you managing your own study, setting yourself goals and deadlines, and this isn’t for everyone.
What do you want from a Distance Learning course? Are you studying a subject out of interest, or hoping to gain a qualification? This is very important distinction to make when choosing a college and course, as not all courses on offer are accredited. Make sure to check this out before spending your money.