“ vision2learn delivers learning programmes, conveniently accessed through an Internet-based learning platform using a standard web browser. All programmes are centred on NCFE's nationally available qualifications and are eligible for LSC funding. „
I heard about Vision2Learn through a post on HUKD, and figured I'd take a look. They're offering certificated, recognised qualifications in a small range of subjects entirely free of charge and with very few entry stipulations. I already have a decent bag of qualifications, but I occasionally work nightshifts where I spend most of the night shopping online (I'm not actually meant to be doing anything, just a presence monitoring a radio!) so I thought that it might give my brain a bit of exercise and save me a few quid in the process, while always adding something else to the CV.
Two things that encouraged me: the first was that there was nothing to stop me from applying - no requirement to be on benefits, or not have any existing qualifications, as many free courses are (all they need is that you are aged 19+ and an EU resident for the last 3 years). The second was that they actually assign you to a physical college as a student, rather than just into the online ether. One thing slightly worried me, and that was the fact that they reserve the right to charge you (I think it was £65? I never found out!) if you fail to complete the course. This is to discourage loads of people signing up and then doing nothing with it.
The courses currently available are:
Essential IT Skills Level 1 and Level 2 (I did Lvl 2 - I think Lvl 1 would be very basic)
Equality & Diversity Level 2
Business & Administration Level 2
Customer Service Level 2
Working in the Health Sector Level 2
Nutrition & Health Level 2
Coaching Sport Level 2 (there are additional requirements for this one, as you need a mentor)
APPLICATION PROCESS - a bit of a mugger's buddle!
The first course I applied for was the Level 2 IT. I filled the form in online and promptly forgot all about it, slightly disappointed that it was something that didn't start straight away. After a week or so some forms came through the post, which were slightly more complicated than I expected - they wanted photocopies of my passport as well as all sorts of details about my employment and NI number. It was an official college enrolment form, however, and so I completed it all and sent it back. Some time later (sorry, can't remember the exact timings as this started a couple of years ago) I received a letter from them to say that they were sorry, but the course was now full and they would contact me when another place became available. I was rather annoyed at this, having sent them all my personal information! But being rather busy at the time, I just forgot about it.
However, few weeks later, another letter came through saying that they now had a place for me, and I just needed to complete their eligibility check, and someone would contact me by phone. Nobody did. I tried to ring them on numerous occasions only to get answerphones or endless call queues. I emailed several times but got no response. I did eventually receive a call from them on my mobile, but typically it cut off due to poor reception and they never rang back. Eventually, I got through to them, ready to request that I be deleted altogether, but got through to someone who was so apologetic and explained that they had been having a bit of an admin nightmare, that I decided to keep trying. The eligibility check was basic - in fact, stuff I could have done online. I was told that I just had to wait for info on how to log in.
That took a while to arrive too! But eventually I was up and running, and officially a student of Kirklees College in Huddersfield, a place that I've never been, and doubt I'll ever have reason to visit!
COURSE CONTENT - LEVEL 2 IT
I got stuck right in on my next nightshift. Before starting I had to write a paragraph about myself and why I wanted to do the course for my individually assigned tutor, and was shown an online tutorial as to how to use the website - all simple stuff. This was a Level 2 course, which I'm led to believe (rightly or wrongly?) is roughly equivalent to GCSE level. I fared well in GCSE Computer Studies many many moons ago, and am a fairly competent computer user already, so didn't find anything in the course too difficult, but unfortunately didn't really learn much from it either. It was a basic introduction to Word, Excel, Powerpoint & Databases (I didn't do the database part as you only had to pick 3 of the 4 units). You DO NEED to have Microsoft Office or similar software to be able to do this course, but I'm sure they checked that with me on the eligibility survey.
Although the course content was fairly basic to anyone familiar with using MS Office already, it was interesting and there were little bits and pieces that I didn't know here and there. It was all well written, and overall I would say there was nothing that really jumped out at me as being badly put or misleading, which is obviously important to people learning for the first time. The assessments, however, were actually quite labour intensive! They required a lot of work and really did make me have to think. In fact I had to resubmit my assessments on two occasions because I hadn't fully answered some of the questions. If it wasn't for the £65 fail-to-complete fine that was hanging over me, I suspect that I'd probably have jacked it all in at various points throughout the course! But I stuck with it, and apart from the few aspects that I hadn't completed fully, the feedback from my tutor was excellent, and it was very personal to me - she had clearly read it fully when marking.
COMPLETION & CERTIFICATION
Eventually I finished the course and passed all the assessments. Yay! I don't know why I did it, but when I got the final assessment results through, I found myself compelled to go back to their website and sign up for another course... Equality & Diversity. I don't know to this day why I didn't just run a mile, having struggled latterly to find the time to complete the first one, but I did.
The application process was, thankfully, much more efficient this time round, but I did have to start from scratch as a new student, which seems pointless considering they already have my details, and I had to fill all the forms in again. The only thing I didn't have to do this time was wait for my log-in details... as soon as I was accepted by a college (Havering College I think it was!) I was straight on to the course.
However, I still hadn't received my certificate. As I wasn't waiting for it for any reason in particular it didn't really bother me, but I suppose some people would be very keen to receive it. In fact, it took almost 6 months to arrive and only after I prompted Vision2Learn because I had by that time finished the second course with them. But, it did arrive eventually, and I was quite proud of myself when it came in the post in a board-backed envelope by Recorded Delivery! I had been worried it would be a shoddy A4 printout, but there were 4 pages of certificates with all the modules listed and lots of official looking stamps and logos on nice thick paper. Definitely excellent quality and something that an employer would take seriously, and for someone who keeps all educational stuff in a leather bound display folder, I was extremely pleased by it.
EQUALITY & DIVERSITY
The Equality & Diversity course was entirely different to the IT one. Possibly because it's a subject that I've never studied before, perhaps because it's far more subjective than something that's technical and right or wrong like IT. There was lots of personal input, about what you thing, how you feel etc. I was asked to write about people I knew, and the similarities and differences between them. There was nothing difficult at all in it, but it certainly did require a lot of thought. The assessments were good, but needed quite a lot of work again. There were (I'm sure from memory) only two main assessments in this course, so although they were quite lenthy, there was never a moment of 'I'll never get this finished'!
Unlike the IT course, the certificate for my E&D arrived about a fortnight after I'd completed it. Again, it was a nice certificate, well presented, and something that anybody would be proud of.
And once again, that unexplicable feeling came over me to apply for another... why? I have no idea! But I did!
BUSINESS AND ADMINISTRATION
My third course with Vision2Learn was the Level 2 Business and Admin course. Fortunately, despite having to apply from scratch again, the application process for this course was trouble-free, and I got accepted onto it with a college called 'Tyro BA' (I think they're an online-only college, unlike the other two) quite quickly, so I got stuck in.
If I'm honest, I wasn't quite as impressed with the course content on this one as the other two. It was very much geared towards someone who aspires to being a secretary or PA. The content was aspects such as how to organise a function, how to support the business, and equipment you might find in the office. I had been hoping for something that perhaps was a bit more geared towards how to run a business, but this wasn't the case. Despite this, I plodded on with it and passed the assessments without any difficulty - they were VERY lengthy I thought, however that might have been because I didn't really feel that I was fully engaging with their content. My fault I'm sure, for signing up for a course that wasn't really of massive interest to me. However eventually I got through it all, and again received the certificate about 2 months after completion.
Yes, I had that feeling again, and despite my better judgement, I went for the 'Customer Service' course next. However, in the same was as had happened with the first IT course I did, after sending back the forms I was told that there was no place for me. Very annoying really, having gone to all the bother of sending them my passport info. But I realised that when I got this letter I was actually quite relieved... I don't really think I need a qualification in Customer Service and really only applied because it seemed the next logical step. So, when the forms came through to say that they had now found me a place this week, I binned them and emailed Vision2Learn to say I wouldn't be taking it.
I've been looking at some of the free courses on ALISON (free, but you have to pay if you want a certificate), Coursera, or Udacity. The latter two are of degree level and therefore might be more engaging, but with no penalty for failure to complete, I'm not sure that I'd have the staying power. I'd love to try the OU, but it's soooo expensive.
HOWEVER... sucker for punishment as I am, in writing this review I've had a quick look on their website just to check a few things, and since I last looked that them, they've added Level 2 Health & Nutrition... I guess I'll be signing up for that one then, as it sounds really interesting!
VISION2LEARN IN A NUTSHELL
If you're looking for some basic qualifications to help you find work, or just to increase your CV, then I really can't recommend Vision2Learn enough, provided you don't have any time constraints on your study. Yes, their administrative processes are pretty awful most of the time, but at the end of the day, it's entirely free of charge, it's properly certified, and just about everyone is eligible to do it - show me other options that have the same offering and I'll snap your arm off!
Please do comment if you have any questions about the courses and I'll try to answer if I can. Although I may be showing as a 'new user' on here, I've been around for ages, but just not written any reviews for a while, so will get back to you.
I really enjoyed my vision2learn course, I did the IT skills level 2 and have just signed up for the business and administration. I had a fab tutor who was very helpful if I had any questions and prompt at answering me and marking my assessments. It was easy to manouver around the learning area and the course material was thorough. I would recomend these courses to anyone looking to gain more qualifications for their C.V.
I have been on the Equality and Diversity 2011 - Level 2 course since the end of June/ beginning of July 2013. I finished my first assessment with them and duly sent it in on 22nd July as requested... By return on the same day, I received an email from them to tell me that they would mark it in five days, and if I hadn't passed I would have to re- submit my work in five days back to them... Well, it is now the 1st August 2013 and I am still waiting for my assessment to be returned to me. I have sent two emails to their administration email, two to my tutor at Preston College and phoned them, only to be told to get on with the last remaining module whilst I am waiting. I have sent another email today! I am not playing the game anymore if they can't be bothered... The course content is very simplistic and there is very little room for your own input. No replies - it doesn't make them look very professional does it? The courses might be free, but what is the point if a so called educational provider ignores their students... I have started some free courses with the Open University and they are much better than this tin pot company!
The course is free so I thought there was nothing to lose. You do have to get your coursework in on time and if you do not complete the course then you have to pay.I had a very abrupt tutor that was not very helpful and did not explain anything clearly to me at all. Some of the questions were straightforward but the tutor made them very complicated. He wanted answers that the question did not even refer to. I completed my course on time and that was in September 2012, we are now in July 2013 and I still have no certificate. I chased vision2 learn and they blame a college, college then blames vision2learn so although its free, it really was a waste of my time.
For a while I wanted to get some more training and qualifications relevant to my office job in order to further my career, but my employer was being anything but helpful and didn't seem to want to fund any training I found. In the end, I decided to have a look to see if I could find a course that I could do for free. After gaining my Level 1 Clait (IT qualification) whilst at school, I decided it would be a good idea to look for a Level 2 IT course, as many office jobs that I have seen require you to have good IT skills.
I came across a free Level 2 ITQ course with Vision2Learn and thought I would have a look into it, as this was the course I had been wanting to do for a while, and hadn't seen it available for free before. I thought that there would probably be something that would stop me being able to do the course for free, particularly because I have a degree, which usually puts a stop to any government funding for courses.
Vision2Learn currently offer the following courses:
NCFE Level 2 Certificate in the Principles and Preparations for Coaching Sport
NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Equality and Diversity
Level 2 Certificate in Principles of Business and Administration
Level 2 Certificate in Customer Service
Level 1 ITQ Award/Certificate in IT User Skills (QCF)
Level 2 ITQ Certificate in IT User skills (QCF)
After looking into the available courses, I decided that the Level 2 ITQ course was the one that I definitely wanted to apply for, and so I filled in the online form. I have only studied towards the ITQ qualification with Vision2Learn and so I will only be able to comment on my experiences with this course, but I would imagine that the other courses they offer work in a similar way. I received information through the post about the mandatory unit for my course and details about the optional modules I needed to choose from. I had to fill in a few forms and send these back to Vision2Learn. I also had to fill out an enrolment form for Leicester College, as this is where my personal tutor is based. You don't have to visit the college you are assigned to at all, as all learning is completed online.
I received a phone call from a lady at Vision2Learn to get me set up on my course. She was very helpful and able to answer all of my questions. As I've previously mentioned, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to get funding to do this course for free, as I've already got qualifications above Level 2. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to be told that I would be able to do the course for free because the only IT qualification I had was at Level 1, and the fact that I had a degree didn't matter, because it wasn't in the subject I would be studying with Vision2Learn. I will also note here that you don't have to pay for a certificate, which is something I was concerned about, as I've seen other training providers that do ask for a fee for sending out a certificate. There are a few other criteria you have to meet in order to get funding for this course, such as being over the age of 19 and you must live in England. I will also mention here that I was advised that there would be fees if I withdrew from the course, and so it is worth making sure that you are definitely going to be able to finish the course, as otherwise you will be charged. For my ITQ course, I was advised that I would be assigned to a personal tutor, I was given a start date and I had to agree to studying a certain number of hours a week, which I think may of been around 10 hours.
My start date arrived and off I started on my new course. I found it fairly easy to navigate around the website once logged in. I was asked to send some information to my personal tutor via their internal email system, called Vmail, to give her some idea of what IT skills I already have. My personal tutor has always been friendly and I have never had any issues. I was then able to get started on my course.
For my ITQ course I had to work through units for each module, which contained a number of 'how to' videos, tasks to have a go at myself, and short questions to answer. At the end of each module there was a quiz in order to see how much information I understood and remembered, and then an assessment that had to be submitted to my personal tutor via the Vmail system. As with all online distance learning, you need to be self-motivated in order to complete the modules. I was provided with an action plan with planned completion dates, which I found helped to make sure I stayed on track, and the actual completion dates for each module were then filled in by my personal tutor once she had marked my assessments as passes. There was also a group forum for students to discuss the modules with each other, but I noticed that no-one ever wrote anything on the forum for my course.
In terms of how I found the course, I have had a few different office jobs where I've had to use Microsoft Office a lot, and so I thought that I would find this course pretty easy. However, I was wrong! I actually found the course to be a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Funnily enough, I probably found the Word Processing unit to be the hardest of them all, which I wasn't expecting because I use Word a great deal. I think one reason that I struggled slightly is probably because I did my assessments using the 2007 version of Microsoft Office, as this is the version installed on my laptop, whereas I am much more used to the 2003 version, as that is the version I was using every day at work. I will mention here that the Level 2 ITQ course can be studied by students using either version of Microsoft Office, as you simply choose which version you are using when prompted. I think one of the most frustrating things was that I ended up having to resubmit my assessments a number of times for each module, which I really wasn't expecting. I don't think it helped that, whilst most questions were very easy to understand, I found some questions to be a little unclear and so I occasionally wasn't too sure what they were expecting me to do. I did find, however, that my personal tutor was helpful in all of her emails asking me to resubmit, with all sections of work that I needed to alter being highlighted clearly and advice being offered as to how to improve my work in order to make my work a pass. It did sometimes take her a while to get back to me after submitting and resubmitting assessments, which could get a little frustrating. I just started the next module straight away whilst I was waiting for more feedback, as otherwise I could of ended up going way past my deadlines.
I finished my course on 1st February 2013 and recieved an email from my personal tutor to say I had passed the course subject to external moderation (yay!). I was extremely happy to have passed the course after putting it a lot of time and work. However, it's now June and I still haven't received my certificate. I phoned Vision2Learn up a few days ago to see what was happening and was advised that I should of received my certificate by now and she would chase it up for me. I then received an email advising that there have been unforeseen circumstances with regards to moderation being completed on learners' assessments and that Leicester College are working as quickly as possible to clear the backlog. Apparently I need to keep logging in to check my Vmail in case the moderator asks for further actions. I have to say, I wasn't too impressed to be told that 4 months after I completed the course I need to keep logging into my work area in case I may have to further alter assessments! I'm hoping that this won't be the case and that they will send me my certificate soon.
Overall, therefore, Vision2Learn are a good company to approach if you wish to study one of the courses they offer for free. I found the work harder than expected, and they are rather specific on what they want to be submitted. Also, don't hang around to received feedback on any submissions, as it can take a while to hear anything back about your assessments. However, I found my personal tutor to be helpful and it is easy to navigate around the course. I managed to pass the course after resubmitting each module's assessments a few times, and I use IT on a regular basis. The support you get is rather minimal and if you aren't very confident at using IT, I don't think this would be the course for you. I have kept changing my mind about how many stars to award Vision2Learn. I would have awarded them 4 out of 5 stars if I had received my certificate, but after seeing other reviews where students have waited for months for their certificates, it sounds like my case isn't a one-off, and so I think it's only fair to subtract another star for this, as after all, the certificate is the whole reason I embarked on this course in the first place!
Update 15/11/13: I finally received my certificate a few months ago, and so I've updated my rating from 3 to 4 stars.
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!
I started this course in March 2012 for my own continuing professional development. At first it was ok, interesting and the tutor had an open forum session with us on specified days. If we were having problems we could just ask and he would help. Then it stared to go wrong, something happened to my tutor and he stopped marking the work. He did apologise and then we were moved to someone else. Anyway, course was completed and signed off and I was told to expect to wait up to 12 weeks for my certificate.I have contacted countless administrators, my tutor and half the country it feels like but I have still not received my certificate (it is now December) so much so that they do not even bother responding to me anymore.In my opinion, avoid these people like the plague !
I have just finished a business and administration course with vision2learn and I thought it was great, some reviews say the tutors aren't helpful and don't support them with their work but personally, I think they just got unlucky. My tutor was really helpful and always replied to my emails to rephrase questions or tell me where to find the information I needed. Because the learning content is all online, it made it easier for me to study around my other commitments and I'm really happy with it. I would definitley recommend it to anyone. My assessments were always marked within 5 working days with brilliant quality feedback from my tutor. I'm even contemplating doing another course with them! If you feel your deadlines are too tight you can email your tutor and arrange a more convenient timescale that better suits you. Overall I'm extremely pleased with the quality of content and the support I personally received; but of course that's just in my opinion and you will have to decide for yourself.
I find it all extremely frustrating. It takes ages to get anything marked. Vmails are somewhat frosty. I simply cannot stand being written to in 'teacherlease,' - I'm 51 years old. I find the following comment'The corrected copy of the walking tour document is perfect, all there is to do is to remove your name Shelley, it's not necessary for it to be there.Be careful you have repeated yourself quite a few times. This is not good practice, repeats like this throughout a piece of work such as this shows the lack of creativity, laziness and lack of attention to detail. Your work is very good Shelley.'totally bizarre.And to top it all I absolutley detest the smilies...
I decided to enrol on an iTQ level 2 course with them. At first it seemed quite good but I did struggle a bit as it was more technical than I thought but I have had virtually no support or advice from my tutor what so ever which isn't helping, all I get is frosty emails and it takes weeks to get anything marked which is delaying my progress, I understand the tutors may be busy but surely if it's that hard they could bring in some extra help for them?
Because of the delay with the tutor I had a call from vision2learn saying I was falling behind schedule as I had been doing the course for 4 months and not yet finished it, luckily they have extended my deadlines but I will be complaining.
This week I received a message from my tutor to inform me she will be on holiday for 2 weeks or more which is going to mean my vital assessment probably won't be marked before she goes and it doesn't look like any other tutor is going to be stepping in while she is away.
I would definitely not recommend them, as soon as I eventually finish my course I will go to learn direct which I had very positive results with before also the phone number is not free phone with vision2learn which it is with learn direct.
... as I say they mean well I'm sure, but there is enough concern to hold back before giving this to children there is a measure to the continual invasive development within this software that could and I have taken the wrong way and I will not be changing my mind.
It appears to be working towards taking over management and control of my computer.
Small things began appearing to not be right after the first assessment such as a dialogue appearing with a snapshot 'Shall we clear up the desktop this morning' and all of my expensive anti virus ,wireless intruder and clean up where whisked away and all that was left was the V2l assessment form which consistently wriggles like a fish on the line, is that just one 15 page Hyperlink! you cannot compress their files and when they spot you running for the delete button as we all do when we are not certain of anything downloading any longer then suddenly everything is overwritten by a write protection.
As I say they mean well but for me I like a little sophistication in my software, working class or not this just feels like what Procteer calls it Prison Reform Educational Software, it just annoys with all its 'Trigger Challenges' and as for learning I studied long hours to get my first pass only to find a week later nothing I had learnt had stayed with me its not learning its problem solving and its annoying, I could do that myself with Microsoft who you already know will respect you online boundaries and fully inform you as to why a totally new piece of software that delivers stealth remote access to you computer is being downloaded whilst you rest. NFM.
This site is great for distance learning online courses. They have quite a few courses available for study at home and/or at work.
I've completed two courses provided by them, and found the level of learning to be well structured and, in the main, easy to follow and understand.
A Google search for online qualifications picked up this site, and I liked the look of one of their courses which would be useful to me, so I registered (which you obviously have to do).
Unfortunately, at the time, once I had registered the site then informed me that my chosen course was not available in my area. I questioned this, and was informed that the courses are supplied by them, but operated from a variety of adult learning centres which do not provide tutors or funding for all of the courses listed.
This was a bit off putting, so I gave up. About once a month after I had registered with the site, I received an email detailing the subjects that were available to study - Once again, upon applying to study my chosen subject I was informed at registration that the course was unavailable in my area!
One day last December, I received another email from Vision2learn which actually stated that my chosen course was now available, so I wasted no time in applying to register for it.
Online registration was easy, though there was a fair amount of double checking required, as it seemed as though the courses provided were completely free of charge, there are quite a few caveats. For example, some courses seem to be available to people without Higher Education, and others are obviously aimed getting people back to work (as part of a Government initiative).
Once registered, I had an email from my local college which told me what would happen next. I had a phone call from their Administrator, who went through my application again to verify my understanding of the skills, time and ability required - as well as checking my eligibility for the course.
A wad of enrolment forms arrived from the college for me to complete and post back to them. These seem to be checked quite quickly, and I then had an email informing me that I had been assigned to a Tutor, and I was free to commence online learning.
All courses rely on the individual making the required amount of time available for studying (though the Tutors can be contacted easily enough to move deadlines or adjust time scales).
A certain amount of time commitment is required to complete the courses. About 7 hours per week is considered to be the minimum, though it is possible to work through the courses much faster (but don't expect the Tutor to mark each assessment the minute it's submitted).
I found the courses to be well-structured, and I did learn from the course content. The Vision2learn course websites aren't always the easiest to navigate your way around: For example, there are pop up "Journal" windows that are used to make online notes. These are often situated before the key points are actually covered in the course text, which makes some questions in the Journal difficult to answer if you don't already have a grasp of the subject!
The courses also rely on the fact that you'll need a fair idea about using a PC prior to starting the course. I completed Vision2learn's IT User Skills Course - which required a basic understanding of general PC and Microsoft software. An absolute novice in this field could well struggle just getting started with the course!
There is also the VMail (online email) system, which is not the easiest thing to use, being more of a message board between the student and the Tutor.
The VMail system obviously confused some of my fellow students when it came to submitting the first assessment, which is quite understandable.
Working through the courses is simple, with (mainly) MS Word assessments being the main way to complete and submit work to the Tutor. At the end of each module, a quick ten question learning summary must be completed (these are multiple choice questions), and you are free to recap using the handouts that you can print out at the end of each module.
Once this is done, then the assessment must be completed and submitted.
Altogether, it's a very easy system of learning. The fact that the courses are free (provided that you actually COMPLETE the course within the agreed timescale!), is great.
I've completed two Vision2learn courses, and found them beneficial. In both cases, the Tutors that I've been assigned to have been helpful and able to respond to my questions fairly quickly.
Each course also has an online forum so that the students can communicate with each other (ask questions, I suppose), but in both of my courses the forums weren't used at all.
The range of courses available isn't huge, but there could well be something suitable for your needs, though do bear in mind that you may not be lucky enough to live in a postcode where your chosen course is available.
The only downside I've had is that it takes an awfully long time to gain your qualifications/certificate.
I admit that I completed my two courses quickly and successfully, but after about six weeks of receiving a confirmation email and letter notifying me of my successful completion of each course, I decided to contact my learning centre directly.
The delay is caused by them having to verify/double check the assignments and subsequent passes, which they then have to submit to their Local Authority. It is the Local Authority which then assesses this work and approves payment to the learning centre. The Local Authority's examiner is unfortunately only around seemingly once a quarter, so up to a three month delay is quite possible.
It's a bit annoying, as I did my best to successfully complete my courses in good time, only to find that I'm not going to receive my proof of qualifications formally for a number of months.
- Then again, these are free courses!
It's also worth thinking about some of the Vocational qualifications offered by Vision2learn. These are part NVQs which can be completed online, but a Tutor can visit you in your place of work to assess the skills that you are applying in your place of work - useful if your after a step up the supervisory ladder.
UPDATE: Two days after writing this review, one of my Certificates confirming my Pass arrived! It obviously takes a while, but they do turn up eventually (I'm still waiting for my 2nd Certificate to arrive).
Vision2Learn is a great free site for gaining qualifications. You apply on the website and they contact you by post with some forms to fill in then they let you know whether you are eligible to take one of their online courses.
I am currently studying for CLaIT qualification with them. The course is easy to understand and the learning material provided is excellent, there are exercises to complete after each section and also tests to check whether you have understood the course material which give you instant results. You are also assigned a tutor who will assist you should you require it, they are contactable by vmail which is Vision2Learn's messaging system and they are always quick to respond and helpful.
You can complete the course in your own time - I have to admit to being quite lazy therefore it has taken me nearly a year to complete the course but they do not hurry you at all you are allowed to do things at your own pace.
The final assessments are sent by vmail and you complete each one and send it to your tutor. If there are any problems they require you to re-submit and then mark them again. Then once you pass the assessment you are send a certificate for each unit studied which is a nationally recognised qualification.
I would fully recommend Vision2Learn and I intend to apply for another course as soon as I am able to.
If you are looking for a new career or just want to learn something new, then vision2learn could be for you.It offers a wide range of courses which lead to nationally recognised qualifications.It is funded through the Learning Skills Council which means if you do not have a full level 2 qualification then you will have the course fully funded.
This applies to both whether you are employed or not, so everyone can have the opportunity to study for free.The courses are mainly based around computers but there are other options available.
However, there are limited spaces available, this is because you are assigned a tutor at your local college, although the courses can be done online from home, you will still need to contact a tutor regularly to make sure you understand what is expected from the assignments and of course to submit them. If there are no spaces in your area of the time of applying they will place you on a waiting list and contact you as soon as one becomes available.
I have tried on several occasions to sign up for courses with Vision2learn, only to be told they were not running in my area. I don't see why this is important, given that the entire course is done online, but I would guess that it's to do with college funding.
I finally managed, in October 2007, to enrol on the new iMedia course, which consists of 3 units covering image capture and editing, web design, and animation. The preliminary information on the site seemed quite useful, and I was sent the application forms. When I had returned these, I was phoned by a respresentative of Vision2learn to discuss the requirements of the course and my suitability for it. I explained that I was keen to do an online course because I am disabled and cannot commit to regular classroom attendance. I also explained that I have access to Photoshop and Dreamweaver, but not to Flash (the animation program). I was told that this was not a problem as I could download a trial version of the software in order to complete the assignment.
My application was accepted and I was sent login details, and told to look through the course syllabus and make sure it was definitely suitable for me, as, once I had sent the first assignment, I would be committed to the whole course. I agreed that it was, and started on the assignments.
I found some of the briefs quite confusing, but my tutor was very helpful in explaining anything that was not clear, and I worked through all the assignments on the syllabus.
However, this was where the trouble started. There were 13 assignments, spread over the 3 units, and as I finished the last one, I was proud that I had finished the course. But ... I then received an email saying that I had now finished the 'practice' assignments, and would have 3 projects to do which would be forwarded to the awarding body for my final assessment. This appears to be another 13 assignments, although you work through a complete unit (4 - 5 assignments) at a time and forward the whole unit for assessment.
This creates a difficulty in that, because it took nearly 3 months for the final assignments to come through, the trial version of the software has expired, potentially necessitating buying a full version (around £500), as you can't install the trial version more than once. I also felt it was misleading, as nothing was said about further work once the work on the site had been completed. It also appears to necessitate going out and taking a series of photographs to use, which I should have been told when I mentioned my disability.
I have enjoyed the actual work, which I found challenging but achievable, but feel angry that the information given at the time of enrolment was so misleading.