Thursday, 31 October 2013

Have a SPOOC-y Halloween with NEC!

Massive Open Online Courses and Small Private Online Courses, otherwise known by their acronyms ‘MOOCs’ and ‘SPOCs’, have been making a lot of news in the field of education recently. MOOCs, such as the UK initiative FutureLearn, are designed to be accessed by thousands of people across the globe at once, while SPOCs are a similar idea focussing on a small scale rather than a large one.

While MOOCs and SPOCs do not lead to recognised qualifications, they nevertheless have the potential for a positive impact by providing opportunities to learn, as well as encouraging learning for life. Importantly, such experimentation in different ways of delivering learning highlights how education can be extended beyond the classroom, giving more people who want to learn the chance to do so.

Here at NEC we’ve been aspiring to the principles set out by our founder, Michael Young, to deliver learning outside the classroom for 50 years. Lord Young believed in breaking down the barriers to education, giving as many people as possible the chance to participate through the use of distance learning.

Distance learning is a method of learning that doesn’t require a student to attend classes, stick to timetables, or start their course at the beginning of the academic year. Its flexibility has allowed us to extend learning opportunities to students ranging from busy parents with young children at home, to servicemen living on submarines out at sea.

Since this week’s blog day falls on 31st October, we thought we’d have a bit of Halloween fun and try to summarise what NEC offers with an acronym of our own. We’ve managed to come up with one that fits nicely into the spirit of Halloween – SPOOCs!

  • Small
  • Personalised
  • Open and
  • Online
  • Course
  • Supported all the way

At NEC, all of our courses have the following characteristics:

NEC provides personal, one-to-one support from the moment you first get in touch. Our course advice team ensures that learners enrol on the course that is right for them, and at a level that is most suitable for their needs. Learners will benefit from the guidance and feedback they receive from their assigned personal tutor, as well as a course coordinator who will support them throughout their studies.

One of our key aims is to help break down barriers to learning, so we try to make our courses as accessible as we can. Our courses do not have fixed start dates and are available to enrol 365 days a year. Learners who may otherwise be unable to attend timetabled classes at a physical campus can can study wherever and whenever best meets their needs. We also recognise that not all learners have access to or confidence in using the internet, so alternative options are available, such as receiving course materials and submitting assignments by post. Learners such as prisoners and seafarers for example find this particularly useful.

You can enrol on an NEC course through our website, and access to digital materials for most of our courses will be immediately available through a student workspace after enrolment. There will also be online discussion forums where you can meet and get to know fellow students. We can also be found on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, giving our students, tutors, and other members of the NEC community more opportunities to connect with us and each other online. Updates on news and events are provided by our email newsletter, and of course we post regularly on our blog!

NEC offers a wide range of around 100 different courses, covering everything from GCSEs and A Levels to professional qualifications and the creative arts. Our full range of courses can be viewed at our website or in our Guide to Courses (PDF), along with lots of useful related information. Our advice team can answer any questions you might have, or if you want some help narrowing down your choices. You could also take a look at our special range of 50 Hours For Free short course topics if you’re looking for some inspiration on what to study – there are 12 topics on offer as a part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, and the best part is they’re absolutely free! But they’ll only be around until the Family Learning Festival ends this week, so make the most of them while you can!

NEC is committed to helping learners to study successfully and achieve their goals. There are downloadable course materials to try before enrolment, pre-course advice is available online and by phone, and on-course support is provided by a personal tutor, course coordinator and fellow students. NEC works with six partnership exam centres in the UK, where NEC students can go to sit their exams.

So there you have it. SPOOCs!

From everyone at NEC, we hope you all have a very enjoyable and fun Halloween this year. Happy trick-or-treating!

Roger Merritt
Senior Consultant

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