Online courses have enabled many a student to return to studying and achieve qualifications they never thought they would. They are very convenient for those of you who need to fit your studies around other day-to-day activities. Maybe some of you work during the day, or perhaps you have a family that keeps you busy, or like me you could already be in school, but would like to squeeze in some additional studies around your existing classes.
I have taken a total of three online courses, all with Oxford Open Learning, as they were recommended to me as the best, at the time. In this article, I’m not going to compare different online courses, nor will I suggest which companies you decide on. I would like to simple talk about my experiences with using online courses and my personal opinion on them.
I first started with a GCSE Mathematics course, when I was in my last year of high school. My studies, at the time, weren’t ruling my life and I found that I had a lot of free time. I enjoyed Maths and thought the course would be extremely gratifying. I opted to take the course over a year period, which worked out perfect for me and was very impressed by the schedule that was set me. I felt that I wasn’t bombarded with assignments constantly, just enough to keep me busy without feeling pressured. The best thing about the course, for me, was the tutor. The support I received was incredible; she marked and returned my assignments within days, she was always available when I needed help and she was easy to contact. I would have to say that this one-on-one approach was the backing I needed and definitely had an influence in my final score. I earned an A* – money well spent!
This led to my decision the following year to enroll in the English Language GCSE course and the Mathematics A level course. These I took whilst in college, but this time I spread them out over two years instead of one.
I was just as pleased with the English Language GCSE course as I had been with the Mathematics GCSE course. The material was just as clear, the work just as enjoyable and the tutoring exceptional. With the help of the Oxford Open Learning course I achieved another A, without any stress or pressure.
Unfortunately I was not satisfied with the A level course. Once I had already received the course material, I found out that I needed an additional text book, that had not been mentioned previously. The majority of of the explanations were in said text book and, as a result, I was unable to keep up with the course. My budget did not include an extra eighty pounds for this text book, which is why I would not have ordered the course if I’d known beforehand that this was necessary. To top it off my tutor was no where near as helpful as the previous two, often not answering my emails for days and with short and confusing explanations when I eventually did get a reply. In the end, I failed the final exams and did not get the qualification, much to my dismay, and even though I would not go as far as to blame the course entirely for my fail, it was very disheartening to feel ignored by my tutor and because of this I found myself almost giving up half way through the course. Some have asked me whether the course material was just too difficult, but I don’t think this is any sort of justification for my fail mark, as I passed the equivalent of the A level at my Spanish college, with a 75%, a few months later.
The concept of the online course I think is great; being able to study in your own time and at your own pace, not having to worry about keeping up with your classmates and receiving one-on-one attention when needed relieves more stress than I thought possible.
I would definitely recommend it to anyone who does not have the time to attend scheduled classes. One thing I would say though, is not to make my mistakes – ask in advance about tutors and whether any additional material is needed, so that you don’t get stung once you’ve already started.