Learning to change
Learning to change

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Learning to change

4.5.3 Formal routes to learning

Here we are thinking both of educational institutions (schools, colleges and universities) and work-based learning, such as National Vocational Qualifications (which accredit learning on the job), apprenticeships, and secondments which allow for rehearsal of old skills in new areas, or the development of new skills to take back to the old setting.

Hand-in-hand with the emphasis on lifelong learning, there has been a growth in flexibility and in the idea of personalised learning. It is now possible to take advantage of modular courses, credit accumulation and the accreditation of prior learning to fit study time around other commitments, the resources you have available, the timescale that suits you and the work position in which you find yourself (Jeffs and Smith, 1999). You can transfer from one institution to another and mix distance learning with more traditional courses. Flexitime and the growth of part-time work and working for yourself (freelance) also help to create the space in which to study.

You may not be interested at this stage in careers advice or formal learning, but if you are, then you may find the following activity useful.

Activity 49 Finding out about formal routes to learning

Allow about 40 minutes for this activity

If you are reasonably confident about using computers, the Internet is a useful source of information. If you don’t have your own computer you could go to your local library – most have Internet access.

The Open University’s own website has a useful careers section [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] with links to a wealth of other sites. You could use the website to find out about:

  • exploring your career options – this section has suggestions for finding out about jobs and further study options
  • student stories – here you can read about how some past OU students chose their careers and their learning route.

Even if you are not skilled with computers, a visit to the library would be useful as they will have careers information and also details of local and national education and training opportunities.

Section 5 uses some of the guidance from these web pages about writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV).


Doing this activity suggests that you are thinking about what possibilities lie in front of you in terms of work or education. These possibilities might form part of your personal plan as you get near the end of this course. Doing this activity might also have helped you to realise that you have developed useful skills. These might be using the computer at your local library or they might be how you ask for help and advice. Your confidence in using these skills may also have been increased if you had a go at this activity.


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