Adult Learners’ Week 2020: my challenge to learn something new this year (AD)
Paid collaboration with Working Wales
I was a bit apprehensive when Working Wales challenged me to take part in this year’s Adult Learners’ Week. The idea of finding space in my brain for anything more than juggling my own work, my children and life in general amid these crazy Covid days seemed like it would be too much. I thought it would be all books, essays and academic study.
But when I looked at the website for the 29th year of the biggest adult learning campaign in Wales, which usually sees more than 10,000 adults in Wales taking part, I was surprised to see such a diverse range of courses and tutorials. And some of them will take as little as five to 10 minutes of your time.
The courses, which are all free, include information-based videos, tutorials to develop skills and more formal short courses. Some will take place live online in September, but many of them are already available now to watch or complete online.
Covid-19 has meant that Adult Learners’ Week is taking place completely digitally this year, so everything can be done in your own home. This suits me perfectly as it means I can learn around my children, don’t have to worry about childcare, and can press pause if I need too. And although the week is for adults, my children have been keen to take part in some of the activities with me too.
All the courses are available on the Adult Learners’ Week website. Some you can click on and complete in your own time; others you’ll need to register for and will take place on a specific time and date. Course providers include everyone from the Open University and various universities and colleges across Wales, to sporting associations such as Welsh Athletics, and smaller organisations such as Wellbeing Enterprises and Digital Mums.
Many of the courses develop workplace and employability skills, such as CV writing and interview skills; computer and digital skills for beginners; business tools for sales and growth; Welsh language courses for specific work sectors and more. But 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.
As I mentioned, some of the courses will take just a few minutes of your time.
We were away in Mid Wales recently and on one particularly rainy day I watched a series of videos, along with my children, on deforestation, forest biodiversity, our planet’s climate and life within forests. Created by Size of Wales, each video is only around five minutes in length but packed full of information and shocking statistics that made us all the more determined to help protect the world’s forests. We loved that the name ‘Size of Wales’ came from the phrase frequently used to measure the rate of forest destruction. The organisation has turned that on its head and in 2013 reached its target to protect two million hectares of forest (the size of Wales!) and has since doubled that target.
Adult learning doesn’t always need to mean exams and intense study or learning with employment in mind. Learning about the world around us, and how we can help, is just as important.
I was excited to see Welsh Athletics have a series of free webinars including several on running – as you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of Cardiff Mummy Says, I’m a runner, currently training for my first marathon, so I’m hoping these will give me some tips. They’re all in video format and around 40-60 minutes, so they’re not too big a time commitment either.
I’m also going to sign up for some of the short courses for digital skills too. Digital Mums have courses in photography and digital branding, which are really relevant to someone like me who works in the digital world but, despite being a trained journalist, has never had any formal training in the digital skills I find myself using more and more.
There are longer courses too, such as The Science of Nutrition and Healthy Eating, which I’ve just started. It’s a free module from The Open University, which 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. I’m really looking forward to his one as it’s an area I’m really interested in, and will be posting regular updates on my Instagram Stories.
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. Again, these are ones that can be done with children so I’m looking forward to getting creative with my children over the summer holidays.
Adult Learners’ Week 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 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.
I’m also looking forward to being inspired by 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.
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.
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