Thursday, 28 August 2014

10 questions to ask a distance learning provider

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WIth the start of the academic year fast approaching, many people are looking to distance learning to take the next step in their learning journey. Whether this is to improve grades, or try a subject for the first time, we know that choosing the right course is a big decision that could change lives.

You could be looking to go on to university, get a promotion or new job or just learn for fun, but whatever the reason, enrolling on a course is an investment in your future.

We want to share with you our top 10 questions we think you should ask before signing up for a course. We’ve also shared our answers to these questions to help you make a choice. If you’re looking at several different providers, this might serve as a useful checklist to help you make an informed decision.

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1. How many assignments does the course have?
For many courses, the more assignments, the more contact time you will have with your tutor, and the more opportunities you will have to check the progress of your learning. All subjects are different, so you’ll find with NEC courses that they all have different numbers of assignments. IGCSE English Language, for example, has 9 assignments as well as self check activities throughout the course. Details of the number of assignments for each course can be found on the course page.
2. Will I have a named, personal tutor?
We think it’s important to have a subject expert to mark your assignments, and to be there for you when you have questions. At NEC you will have a named personal tutor who is a subject expert and a qualified teacher for each subject that you study.

3. How can I contact my tutor?
We think it’s important to contact your tutor directly to enable you to build up a good relationship with them. You can get in touch with them by telephone, email and in many cases Skype too.

4. How is coursework dealt with, and will there be additional costs?
Coursework can be difficult and costly to deal with if you have to go it alone. We deal with your coursework for you - other than writing it of course! Whether the awarding body marks it, or your tutor does, we will make sure it happens and that the work is authenticated.

For courses such as childcare where assessment in a real work environment is essential, we will provide this as part of your course.

5. Can you guarantee an exam place?
Yes! We know that searching for an exam centre can be time consuming and sometimes present difficulties. This is why we have worked hard to develop partnerships with seven exam centres across the UK, and counting, where we can guarantee our students a place for exams.

6. Can I see a sample of the course materials?
You can, yes. On each course page of the website, there is an option to download a sample of the course materials. We take great pride in the quality of our course materials, and encourage you to take a look at these so you can get a feel for how a course works.

7. Will I have to pay extra for a hard copy of the course materials?
No. We understand that everyone has a preferred way of learning, and that reading the materials online is not ideal for everyone. We also know that many people like to have somewhere to scribble notes! For most courses, you can access your course materials online the same day you enrol, and a hard copy will follow in the post.

8. Are there any additional services included?
Yes, lots. We want to make sure that each and every NEC student has the best possible chance at success and enjoys the learning experience as much as possible. Each student will have access to additional resources within their online workspace to help improve spelling, punctuation and grammar and another to enhance independent learning skills.

You will also have a dedicated course co-ordinator on hand to help you when you need it, and we will make sure you can access past papers and mark schemes.

9. What qualifications do your tutors have?
All of our tutors have a degree in a relevant subject, and a teaching qualification and relevant experience. We also make sure that our tutors undertake continuing professional development on a regular basis, and send them on training courses relevant to their specialist subject.

10. Can you provide predicted grades for UCAS applications?
If you are doing a course with the purpose of going on to higher education, chances are that this will be important to you. Provided that you have done 4-5 assignments, your tutor will be able to give a predicted grade that you can use on your application. The more work you put in to the course, the more accurate the prediction will be.

To find out more about NEC and our wide range of flexible distance learning courses, visit our website. You can keep up with all the latest NEC news and events by subscribing to our email newsletter or following our blog. We can also be found on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

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