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Lifelong elearning: Time to start studying again

9th Mar 2015
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Wayne Janse van Rensburg talks about the benefits of lifelong elearning and how learning needn’t stop when you leave school or university.

The learning journey

Today, education is for everyone from all walks of life. To learn and gain more qualifications you can be old, young, employed or unemployed, a stay at home parent or a career climber...there are no limits to the education to which we all have the right.

In the past the standard education route was usually: study at school, move on to college, then perhaps university and then get a job. In addition you may have studied a few courses to further your career during your working life, or taken a couple of night classes on a subject you’re interested in.

These days learning is much more flexible and there are so many opportunities, due to the advent of elearning. You no longer have to find the time to sit in a classroom with a group of other students as elearning means studying in the comfort of your own home or office at a time to suit you.

It’s never too late to start learning

What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you remember being asked this as a child? Did you know then? Now you are grown up ask yourself this: are you doing what you want to do as a career? Are you what you want to ‘be’? If the answer’s no, it's not too late to start learning. Elearning is for everyone, and may be one of the most satisfying things you decide to do with your life.

Even if you are happy with your job you may want to expand your mind and knowledge and learn something new. Elearning is flexible and is available to everyone. There are so many courses available at all levels: beauty, writing, teaching, counselling, photography, graphic design, business - the list is endless.

Online and distance learning – what’s the difference?

There isn't really a major difference as both mean you study to your own programme at home or in the office. There’s no need to spend time travelling to classes to study. All you need is a computer.

Distance learning

is a more independent method of learning. You receive course materials either by post, email or via the internet and follow the study plan in your own time. You return assignments to your tutor which are marked, graded and returned to you. You may be required to attend some seminars in person, as part of the course.

Online learning

has more interaction with your tutor, who will be available by email, telephone or online messaging (usually Skype) to answer your queries and guide you through your learning experience. You may also attend online seminars in a virtual classroom with other students.

Both elearning methods are great for people who don't enjoy sitting in a classroom with others. Elearning gives you the individual attention and support of a personal tutor, so you gain more from your studies. Some distance learning and online courses include a period of work experience (e.g. teaching assistant and childcare courses), where you are observed in the workplace as part of your studies

Why lifelong elearning?

Lifelong elearning is fast becoming the way to study, for people with busy lives and those wishing to study in their leisure time. It’s a flexible learning method that opens up education to everyone.

Some of the positive benefits are:

  • A healthy mind – learning is a way to exercise your mind, no matter what your age or ability. A hunger and desire to learn expands your knowledge and keeps your mind sharp.

  • Career adaptability – these days not many of us work for the same company or have the same job for life. Gaining more qualifications makes you more employable and shows commitment to your work.

  • Confidence – broadening your knowledge can help shy people develop their conversational skills and increase their ability to mix with others. Talking confidently about a subject you are passionate about and have studied can empower you.

  • Flexibility – lifelong elearning is adaptable. Your studies can be tailor-made to suit you. You can work around school hours, holidays and your free time. Some of us are night owls, others absorb information better in the mornings – elearning means you can study at the best time for you.

  • No age barrier – you can study elearning courses throughout your life. There is no age requirement for most courses and you can either do them for career improvement or leisure purposes. People study at many different times of their lives: on maternity leave, whilst working, when the children are at school or when they retire.

  • Meeting people with similar interests – some elearning courses include occasional seminars when students all meet to discuss the course with their tutors. Many online courses have chat facilities where students can interact and chat with others about their studies. This community spirit can increase motivation if you are finding it hard to study alone.

  • Cost savings – you won't have travel costs or lose time spent at work if you study an elearning course. Some employers may pay for your course and allow you time off to study.

We all have the inbuilt ability to learn, and lifelong elearning gives us the chance to explore that ability.

Wayne Janse van Rensburg is CEO of Stonebridge. Do something you’ve always wanted to do and start your elearning journey today

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