EC4U & Online Learning: Your questions answered

We have had an increasing amount of enquiries asking if we are going to be launching online courses soon. There are many challenges involved in putting together an online based course, and as with the courses based in our centre, our biggest priority is ensuring that you have the best experience possible with the best value for money.

As a business we do not want to throw a course together and rush it out the door just because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This would do no-one any favours. Instead, as with all our courses, the quality of the training provided is more important to us than the profitability of the business.

Here are some of the challenges around putting together an online course:

Taking the exam

We use two exam providers here at EC4U, they are City & Guilds and EAL. Until very recently neither of these awarding bodies would allow you to take an exam anywhere other than an approved centre. With the current situation, City & Guilds are looking at trialing taking their online exams in your own home, using software such as Microsoft Teams to aid invigilation. How successful this will be, we don’t yet know.

As the situation stands currently, however, you would have to attend the centre to take an exam, which with the current restrictions in place, is not possible. This leads to some issues.

Firstly, for the person taking the course, the time between completing the course and taking the exam is vital. Like anything in life, these courses are very much use it or lose it. The longer you wait between completing the course and taking the exam the less likely you are to pass it.

For us as a training centre, we can constantly assess you whilst you are undergoing training here and tailor our teaching and delivery methods to you, ensuring you have the best chance of understanding the course content and successfully gaining the qualification.

Course content

Our courses rely quite heavily on practical elements wherever possible. These are integrated in such a way that they work seamlessly with the theory elements. For example, we may discuss the requirements of an inspection in the classroom, before getting you to carry out an inspection on an installation in our workshop.

This obviously doesn’t translate well to distance learning courses.

Now there are some predominantly theory based courses that potentially could transfer well into an online course, Part P of the Building Regulations and 18th Edition being the obvious examples. We are working on translating these courses into an online deliverable format, but quality and value for money for us customers are key to us, so we need to make sure what we put together is the best we can make it.

Pre-packaged courses

Equally, we could have taken a step similar to many other training companies and brought a pre-packaged course from a course provider and had something to offer now. We have several issues taking this approach.

Firstly, is guaranteeing the quality of the course. As a business we spend a lot of time and effort in constantly improving all aspects of our courses. After every course, we take our customers feedback on board and use that feedback to drive improvement.

A pre-packaged course would not allow us to do that and limit the input that you, our customers, have on the way we deliver our courses.

The second is the value for money. We pride ourselves on how competitively we price our courses, we believe in charging a fair price for a product and not passing on any unnecessary costs to our customers. If we started sourcing externally created courses, we wouldn’t be able to guarantee that what you are paying for is the best value for money available.

Supporting the learner

We always strive to provide the best support we can to all our customers while they are taking a course with us.

Whether that’s staying later with you to help you get your head around a difficult subject or coming in early to help you with your practical work; we’ll always go the extra mile to ensure you are getting the most out of one of our courses.

It goes without saying that this is much harder to do with an online course. Because of this we are looking at learning platforms that can help us provide you with a similar level of support that you would get if you were here in the centre, helping us to help you be as successful as possible.

As we said at the beginning, this is not something we are going to rush into until we can find the best possible solution for all our customers.

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