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Free Qualifications for the Motivated!
Member Name: missmaile
Advantages: free - qualifications which give transferable skills - all online so no paperwork to organise
Disadvantages: availability depends on where you live - fee if you drop out - not much tutor support
I found out about Vision2learn a couple of years ago whilst looking for a course to keep me occupied whilst I was off work for a few months, since then I have fully completed 3 qualifications, have one I am about to finish and have my next one in mind!
The courses are easy to sign up for, on the website you can register for the course you want to do, there tends to be about 4 or 5 different options, these can change however, since I first did a course there have been many changes to what is offered.
After entering your details you may find that the course you want to do is not available in your area, this is down to the funding - they will hold your details and contact you if the course becomes funded in your area and you then have the option of choosing another course.
One you have registered your interest Vision2learn will match you to a supporting college, I have found sometimes it is a local college and sometimes it is the other side of the country but it does not really matter because you never actually have to go there, all the work is done online.
You then need to fill out an enrollment form for the college who will support you in your studies, send it back and then wait for a call - this call will just go through some quick questions to make sure you have the right things on your pc to complete the course, you have enough time, how long you have lived in the UK and then some statistical information for the funders.
You will then be sent login details and as soon as you have them you can get started. First off you fill some questions which gives your tutor an idea on how much you already know about the subject so they can see where you may need some support, they also give you a timetable based on how many hours a week you say you can put into the course.
Thats it, then you can get started by working through the modules which are split into manageable sections, there are idea boxes along the way for activities and to record your thoughts and notes, along with little quizes so you can check your knowledge as you go.
After each module you will complete an assignment and send it to your tutor for marking - the number of assignments varies from course to course, I have had a course with just 3 modules and another with 5.
The tutor then marks this and gives feedback. In my experience a resubmission is always asked for - no matter how hard I have worked they always ask you to expand a bit, so I get the feeling that is standard practice.
Once all the assignments are complete they are sent for external verification, this can take a while, I had to wait over 2 months for one of my certificates.
I have found the qualifications to be level 1 and 2 so far and most are accredited by NCFE, although the ITQ one I am doing is City and Guilds.
You do need to be motivated to do these courses, there is very little tutor support. You contact your tutor via vmail which is basically an internal email system, replies can take a while to come back and assignments can take some time to come back too so its worth cracking on with the course rather than waiting for feedback on assignments already submitted.
The course material is basic I feel and if you want real in-depth understanding of the tropics it is a good starting point for further research.
I have done a level 1 in personal money management, level 2 in business administration, level 2 in equality and diversity, level 2 in business administration and am currently doing level 2 in ITQ. I plan to do level 2 in customer service when I finish the ITQ.
I work in healthcare and these courses can seem irrelevant, however you never know what the future holds and I feel future employers will like too see I have done something productive with my spare times and have been able to learn valuable transferable skills from the courses despite them not being directly relevant, so they are certainly worth doing, especially since they are free.
A word of warning though, when you sign up you agree that failure to complete the course will mean the college can charge you an administration fee, for one of the courses I did it was £50, another £100 and for one it was a whopping £250, so only sign up if you really intend on doing the course.
At one point i did feel I was not going to be able to complete one of the courses because I had some personal difficulties, however I found that a quick phone call was all it took to get my deadlines extended which enabled me to finish the course.
I say if you want to learn something new in your spare time and have the drive to get on with it without much support then this is a great way to do it for free!
Summary: free qualifications if you have the drive to do them