The internet as a tool for learning

Once upon a time the only way to get a qualification or improve knowledge was to go back to the classroom – literally. College or university day or evening classes offered courses in everything from GCSE maths to NVQ certificates in plumbing. Working adults who wanted to develop their academic qualifications would therefore find they had to endure a full working week, plus a journey to and from their nearest educational establishment two or three times per week for extra hours of study. Happily, there are now new ways to learn and brilliant new internet tools that give access to online resources, so keen students never have to go further than the nearest computer or smartphone.

Using the internet

Learning online has never been easier. A wide range of different types of courses is available, including further and higher education qualifications and trade skills. So adults who want to obtain or improve grades in GCSE or A-level subjects find that distance learning via computer is just as easy to undertake for them as it is for those pursuing certificates, diplomas or degrees. The most obvious benefit is that in many cases study can be undertaken from home or from the workplace. Learning materials generally include printed documents, CDs or DVDs as well as online resources – depending on the course. Students receive support from mentors and tutors, and sometimes can join a peer group, such as a student network or community.


Occasionally, online courses are subject to a start date but mostly students can begin when they are ready and are guided and supported as they go along. This flexibility is also of financial benefit – usually it is possible to choose a preferred payment method, which avoids the burden of a loan or student debt. The combination of study tools is also beneficial – people have different learning styles and not everyone finds that the best way to learn is from a textbook. Those that prefer visual clues, or like to listen to instructions or information, often can take advantage of video conferencing and DVDs or audio materials on a CD.

What to learn?

Learning for its own sake is a real pleasure and choosing a course that will also improve existing qualifications is a smart way to enhance employability and the chance to get a better job. Parents with small children find learning from home is a great way to spend quality time with the family, whilst not missing out on opportunities should they return to work as they have added to their skills in the meantime.

Redundancy can prompt workers to consider a new type of occupation, and online learning covers a truly diverse set of knowledge and skills, providing accreditation in standard academic subjects as well as accountancy and finance; beauty and fashion, web design, teaching, nursing, psychology and social sciences. IT languages and business management are available, alongside technical topics such as engineering and project management.

With courses accredited by recognised authorities, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing and City & Guilds, learning online has never been so attractive and easy to manage.



David Hobart

I grew up in Norfolk and have lived and worked in the county all my life.

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