Blog: December 2017

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Top tips for starting a distance learning adventure in 2018

A pink note reading "Happy New Year" next to two filled champagne flutes and a silver party ribbon

With the festive season in full swing, plans and resolutions for 2018 are rapidly approaching. If your 2018 ambitions include a return to study via distance learning, why not use the next few weeks to identify a course that offers the support you need?

For distance learners, support offered by their course provider is key to shaping the overall learning experience. Gaining access to the right support from registration through to collecting your results will transform your 2018 learning experience from ‘good’ to ‘great’.

From registration to results, our top tips for comparing course provider support...

1. Registration: Access advice and support from day one

A good course provider will offer lots of support to ensure you choose the right course, before you register. Once you’re enrolled, guidance should be on-hand to help you get started.

NEC's approach

As well as information and downloadable course samples, our course advice team are happy to talk through any questions you have prior to registration. We want to ensure you make an informed choice, that’s right for you. When you enrol on an NEC course you’ll receive a confirmation email, plus immediate contact from your personal tutor.

2. Learn: Expect quality in both teaching and materials

When considering course providers, explore how they ensure the quality and depth of their teaching support and course materials. These elements will shape your entire learning experience.

NEC's approach

NEC tutors are experts in their subject area and the majority have a degree in their field of study, plus a teaching qualification.

NEC course materials are specially written and structured for independent study by our team of expert writers. They are carefully structured to build knowledge and skills in a way that meets assessment and exam requirements.

NEC materials include:

  • Engaging content develops interest in the subject
  • Getting started guidance and videos
  • Course plans, activities and quizzes
  • Guidance on answering exam questions
  • Assignments to submit to a personal tutor
  • Personal learning journal
     

Visit the courses section of our website to request sample materials.

3. Learn: Use expert knowledge to enhance learning

Some course providers use a pool of tutors to support students and assess work. Others provide a named, personal tutor for every student – offering consistent expert support throughout the course.

NEC's approach

We feel it is important to provide one-to-one tutor support for students, throughout a course. This approach offers consistency, as well as the opportunity to build a teacher-student rapport. As soon as you register on an NEC course you will be assigned a personal tutor who will offer support, guidance and feedback throughout and mark your assignments and coursework.

4. Assess: Ask if your exam place will be guaranteed

Booking an exam at a suitable centre can be tricky, stressful and time-consuming. Finding a course provider that manages the exam process will allow you to focus on studying for exam success.

NEC's approach

We are the only course provider to guarantee an exam place for all our students. We also provide an Exam Booking Service to take care of the entire process on behalf of students. Our experience as an exam centre, alongside long-term partnerships with 15 centres around the UK, allows us to resolve any issues, to deliver a professional, stress-free service on exam day.

5. Results: Review past results - does the course deliver?

Although distance learning is not all about hard results - a lot of people study our courses for leisure purposes or simply to gain more knowledge in a subject they are passionate about. It is good to have an understanding of what the pass rate is for the course you’re interested in before you choose a provider – after investing all that hard work and study, you may want to achieve the best results possible.

NEC's approach

We have a very high pass rate. To give you an example, for the summer 2016 exam session, we received a 100% pass rate for our IGCSEs and GCSEs. We hope these tips help you to plan your next learning adventure.

If you have any further questions please contact us on our free advice line – we’re here to help.

Call: 0800 389 2839
Monday to Friday: 8.00 – 19.00
Saturday & Sunday: 8.00 – 17.00
Or access our Course Guide.
 

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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Finding a way to pay for your learning


Photo credit: Nick Youngson - nyphotographic.com

If you’re looking for help toward funding an online or distance learning course, it can be difficult to know where to start. A lot of funding is geared toward face to face learning that takes place in a classroom, but learning in this way is not suitable for everyone.

You might be working full time or have children, perhaps you’re not able to travel to your local college? Whatever your reason for choosing to study a course online, we would like to share our top tips for looking at possible ways to pay for your course.

Spread the cost

If you are able, paying in monthly instalments might be a good way to spread the cost of your course. You can pay a deposit amount and then monthly instalments meaning you don’t have to pay the full amount up-front. NEC instalment plans usually have 0% interest and run over 6 months. Find out more about paying by with instalments.  

Ask your boss

If you’re thinking of doing a course that will help you to improve in your job or, perhaps, to prepare for a promotion with your company, asking your boss for help might be a good option for you. Some employers are willing to help their teams to be the best they can be, after all, it will be of benefit to them in the long-term. If you decide to do this, we suggest presenting your employer with details of the course and how it will help you to improve in your job.

Search for funding

There are different possibilities for funding your course, based on your own circumstances and often your location. You might consider approaching include local community groups or charities specific to your own circumstances such as ‘Help for Heroes’ if you are a former member of the Armed Forces.

Turn2Us have an online search tool which will search, on your behalf, for available grants based on your personal circumstances and location. You might also consider speaking to your Local Authority, particularly if you are educating your children at home.

Specialist organisations

Some organisation provide financial assistance to specific groups of people, for example, The Carers Trust provides grants for those with responsibility as a carer, The Prince’s Trust provide grants to young people aged between 14 and 25.

If you’re a member of the armed forces, you might be able to get funding. If you are looking to do a level 2 qualification (such as a GCSE) you may be able to get help through the Standard Learning Credits scheme. If you are looking for a level 3 or above, the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service (ELCAS) may be able to help you. In both cases, we recommend speaking to your Education and Resettlement co-ordinator in the first instance. NEC is approved by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) under the ELCAS scheme. Provider number 1160.

Don’t forget though, all grants and awards are subject to your individual circumstances. You can often find details of any eligibility criteria on the organisations website or by giving them a call.

Look for special arrangements

On some occasions, NEC works with organisations to provide a discount on course fees. One example of this is our partnership with Unionlearn. All union members are able to get a 10% discount on course fees. There are also special rates available when you are looking to enrol on more than one A level or GCSE course. Families that are home educating their children can also take a further 10% off of their course fees. You can read more about all NEC special offers and arrangements.

We hope this has given you an idea of where to start, if you’re looking to pay for your course.
 

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Tuesday, 05 December 2017

How does written non-examination assessment (NEA) work?

Laptop and hand

If you’re taking A levels in English language, English literature or history you’ll need to think about the written piece of non-examination assessment (NEA). It counts as 20% of your overall A level grade.

NEA needs to be marked to the standards of the awarding organisation and to be recognised as the work of the student. Exam centres making entries for subjects that include NEA are responsible for the marking and authentication (confirming that it is the work of the student) of your work.

In a conventional school setting this isn’t usually an issue, because the teacher will be familiar with each student and their work. For distance learners, however, it can present a challenge as it can be difficult and often costly to have someone supervise and mark your coursework independently.

A benefit of enrolling through NEC is that your tutor will get to know you and your work through the assignments you submit and they are able to both authenticate and mark your NEA. We’ve worked closely with awarding organisations to build rigorous processes to allow this to happen. As a registered exam centre we will then make your examination entry and you can then choose one of our fifteen partnership exam centres to sit your written exams at. We have excellent relationships with all of our centres which allows us to offer a seamless process from start to finish.

When do I need to do the NEA?

The NEA will need to feature in your learning plan and there are some dates you’ll need to stick to for each stage. The deadline for your final submission is 15th March and you’ll have some other dates to meet to prepare you. Don’t worry, you’ll get reminders along the way!

Will I get support?

Yes. Not only with planning and entering your coursework, but the ‘About Assessment’ section of your course is full of helpful information to get you underway. You’ll also have your personal tutor and the NEC support team, a combination that will give you the best possible chance of success.
 

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