• Introduction to online study

    The Virtual Learning Campus (VLC) contains all the information you need to complete your course so we recommend that you take some time to become familiar with it.

    Course information

    You can access your course page by clicking on the 'My Courses' drop-down menu.

    All of our courses are divided into separate parts called units, sections or topics. Each part will consist of reading materials followed by a short test or exercise or a longer assignment. The short test or exercise will help check your understanding of the reading materials before you tackle the assignments. The assignments generally need to be submitted to your tutor for marking.

    By working through the course, you will be gradually introduced to different topics which build your knowledge and understanding of your chosen subject. We recommend that you follow the course in the order that it is laid out on the VLC, starting at the top, as it has been structured to ensure you learn in the most logical order.

    Assessments

    Some courses are assessed through course work, whereas others prepare you to take an external assessment. Some assessments are 'open book' tests which enable you to check your learning; others are formal exams taken outside of the home or your workplace leading to externally validated professional qualifications. If you're unsure about the requirements for your course, just ask your tutor for guidance.

    Tutoring service

    By now you will have received contact details for your tutor, who will help as you work through the course material and mark the assignments you submit for grading.

    Tutoring hours vary slightly by course, but if you contact them outside of these times then they will respond as soon as possible and by the next working day at the latest. Make sure you include your Student ID in all communication as this allows tutors to access your student records and track your learning.

    When your tutor grades your work they will give you specific feedback on what you did well and areas you could develop further. Don't worry if your tutor suggests that you try the assignment again and asks you to submit it a second time. This is very common - after all you are developing new skills. It will also help you in the long run as you'll know which areas to focus on in future. You will find that by repeating things and taking note of your tutor's comments and suggestions you will learn much more quickly. We don't think it's unusual to take a driving test two or more times, so we shouldn't really expect our homework to be perfect at the first attempt either.

    Your tutor will return your assignment within seven working days, though usually much sooner. It's a good idea to make a start on the next unit while you are waiting because that helps you stick to your study plan. However, we recommend that you wait for your tutor's comments before tackling the next assignment.

    Study tips

    Distance learning is a highly flexible way to gain new qualifications and allows you to fit your study around your life. However, it's likely to be fairly different from the kind of learning you may have done in the past because you are in control of your timetable and speed of progression. Here are a few tips that will assist you with planning your time and staying on track with your course:

    • Set aside a regular time to study each week so that it becomes part of your routine and, importantly, set yourself a deadline for each assignment. Put reminders in your calendar for these so they don't get forgotten.
    • Involve your family, friends and colleagues and let them know how they can support you throughout the course.
    • Try to keep all your course books, materials and notes organised and in a safe place when you're not using them. This will make it much easier to pick up where you left off and you won't waste time hunting for the things you need.
    • Start each study session with some quick revision. The more you recap what you have already covered, the quicker it will go into your long term memory.
    • Read the tasks carefully before you get started to make sure you don't end up wasting time doing the wrong thing.
    • Don't be surprised if you repeat the same type of activities throughout the course. It's called 'constant retrieval' and helps you learn more effectively.
    • Don't panic if it's hard to remember everything at first. Give yourself time to absorb new information.
    • Don't struggle alone, there's always someone who can help you on the VLC - both tutors and students.