Ad/Paid collaboration with Working Wales and Adult Learners’ Week 2020
Now that my children are all back in school after six months at home, it’s time for me to go back to school too. Well, not ‘school’ exactly, but I am taking part in Adult Learners’ Week 2020 with some learning of my own.
As I wrote last month, Working Wales challenged me to learn something new as part of the 29th year of the biggest adult learning campaign in Wales, which usually sees more than 10,000 adults in Wales taking part.
This year, Covid-19 means Adult Learners’ Week 2020 is taking place completely digitally between 21 and 27 September, so everything can be done in your own home. This is great for working parents such as me, as it means I can learn around my other commitments and don’t have to worry about childcare.
I was impressed by the diversity of courses and tutorials on offer via the Adult Learners’ Week website. There’s everything from courses to develop workplace and employability skills, such as CV writing and interview skills; computer and digital skills for beginners; Welsh language courses for specific work sectors, and more. Plus, there’s also a huge focus on mental health and wellbeing, sports and wellness, plus a number of creative courses too, from sewing to sugarcraft.
Course providers include academic bodies such as The Open University in Wales, and various universities, colleges, community adult learning organisations, and sporting associations such as Welsh Athletics, and smaller organisations such as Wellbeing Enterprises and Digital Mums.
Some of the courses are longer and more formal but there are also plenty of shorter courses, including information-based videos and tutorials to develop skills. Some of them can be completed in less than an hour. While some will take place live online throughout Adult Learners’ Week, many are already available to watch or complete online in your own time.
And best of all, they’re all free.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I signed up for The Science of Nutrition and Healthy Eating, a free module from The Open University. The course takes around 24 hours to complete and covers understanding food labels, choosing healthier foods, hydrating appropriately and understanding how we taste food so that we can be more informed about the food choices we make. As a parent, a runner, a vegan, and someone who loves cooking, nutrition is important to me and while I think I have a good general understanding, it has been great developing a deeper knowledge and understanding more about the science behind it all.
The module is broken down into eight weeks, with each week’s session taking around two to three hours to complete. I started the first week during the summer, but then life then got in the way and I had to pause for a few weeks until my children were back at school. Luckily, the nature of the course meant that didn’t matter and when I logged back in, I went back over a few pages to refresh my memory and carried on from where I’d left off.
It’s not always easy for me to find a three-hour chunk of time once a week to complete the different weekly sessions, so instead my approach is ‘little and often’, fitting in 20-30 minute bursts when I can throughout the week. I’ve been surprised at how much detail is included in the learning material and I’m discovering more about the science of how different nutrients affect the body. Each week ends with a small informal test where you get three tries to get each answer correct. The tests on weeks four and eight give you the chance to earn a digital badge and a certificate of participation, which you can display digitally on LinkedIn and other platforms.
Other courses are more creative, such as a series of tutorials from the brilliant Lark, Design, Make in Cardiff including making scrunchies and face masks; plus making reusable bowl covers and growing you own veg with Green Squirrel. I thought these ones would be great to do with my children.
Adult Learners’ Week 2020 is coordinated by Learning and Work Institute Cymru in partnership with Welsh Government and other partners including Working Wales.
As I’ve mentioned previously on my blog, I visited Working Wales earlier this year to talk about re-entering the workplace after several years of part-time freelance working from home. You can read about the advice and support I received from Working Wales here. Working Wales allows people to access free, impartial, advice and guidance to help them identify and overcome barriers preventing them from getting a job. Services include information on training, funding, CV, application and interview help, as well as support to revive your career or retrain after redundancy.
Covid might have put a pause to my job search for the time being, but I’m hoping that taking part in a few online courses as part of Adult Learners’ Week will help me develop new skills and to figure out what, exactly, I want to do. Some of the courses are just good fun and build on my existing interests and it’s been good to use my brain in a different way again.
I’m also looking forward to joining in with the masterclass with Sabrina Cohen Hatton on 21 September, an incredibly inspiring woman who is proof that it’s never too late to change your story Sabrina will be sharing her experiences live on the Working Wales Facebook page at 12pm, with the video available to watch in your own time if you can’t make the live stream.
Now a psychologist and author, Sabrina’s story of success might never have happened without her discovering adult learning.
She faced homelessness at the age of 15, spending almost two years on the streets of Newport, but managed to throw herself into her studies as a distraction from her tumultuous living situation. And her learning didn’t stop there. Whilst serving as a firefighter, she completed a degree in psychology at the Open University and later a PhD at Cardiff University.
She says, “I’m passionate about adult learning, not least because of the role it played in changing my story. The biggest realisation for me was discovering I didn’t have to lead the life that I’d been dealt, I could learn, progress and succeed.
Adult Learners’ Week 2020 takes place in Wales between 21 and 27 September 2020. For more information, including all the courses on offer this year, visit the Adult Learners Week website here.
For more information on Working Wales and accessing their advice and support, visit www.workingwales.gov.wales or call 0800 028 4844.