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Sep 032009

A dearth of jobs and apprenticeship opportunities in Ireland has seen demand for post leaving cert (PLC) level courses sky-rocket this year, leaving school-leavers and redundant workers fighting it out for limited college places.

Institutions have been inundated with requests for courses, receiving on average around twice as many applications as there are places available. The demand, thought to be driven by a lack of alternative options in today’s workplace, has been described as unprecedented.

Demand in the PLC sector is also being boosted by an influx of disappointed third-level applicants who didn’t receive an offer of a college place through the the over-subscribed CAO system this year, which also fielded a record number of applications.

In all there were 78,982 applications to the CAO this year, an increase of 7.5% on 2008, and as of last week a total of 44,481 places had been accepted. Further education colleges report that they have processed 60,000 applications for the 31,688 PLC places they have available with a number of colleges reporting a significant rise in the number of applications from mature students, echoing the increasing number of job losses.

Aug 192009
Lifelong Learning

Image by Stephen Downes via Flickr

"Lifelong learning" has become something of a buzzword in recent years.

According to the politicians it’s one of the "key drivers" for "upskilling the workforce" so they can participate in the new "knowledge economy". Buzz, buzz, and more buzz.…

But behind the rhetoric and weasel words of modern political dialogue there’s a serious message trying to break through. It’s simply this: you’re never too old to learn, and learning can and will enhance your life in all sorts of ways… perhaps not just in the areas you expect.

For some adults the decision to return to learning isn’t an easy one to make. Having been compelled to learn through the formal education system, they decide that learning perhaps isn’t for them. Children have a natural curiosity to explore and absorb the world around them — a catalyst for learning that seems absent in many adults, or if not absent then subconsciously subdued. Returning to education years, perhaps decades after leaving the formal education system can feel awkward, unnatural… perhaps even a little frightening. But legions of adult learners attest to the fact that it’s well worth stepping briefly outside your comfort zone to experience the benefits learning can bring.

The really crucial distinction between learning as an adult and learning in school is that as an adult nobody’s forcing you to sit down and listen to something you have little interest in. You’re there because you want to learn, not because somebody else dictates that you have to — and believe it or not that makes all the difference in the world.

AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation, believes there are plenty of reasons why Adult Education is vital to the country, the community, families and individuals. They maintain that people who have an opportunity to continually learn and develop their skills and capacities:

  • Make our economy grow and develop
  • Ensure that their children develop a love of learning and take full advantage of education
  • Actively participate in their own communities and civil society
  • Support and respect people with different cultural beliefs and abilities
  • Respect and protect the environment for future generations
  • Nurture creativity and imagination
  • Live healthy and fulfilled lives

There’s another reason that they don’t list, but that’s crucially important: learning new things is fun, whatever your age.

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Jun 172009
Digital natives

Image by angermann via Flickr

A new breed of employee is entering the Irish workplace, and according to some commentators they’re set to radically change not only the way we do business, but the way we teach it.
Young workers today are the first generation that has grown up in a “wired” world. From birth they’ve been surrounded by technology: by computers, mobile phones, the internet, e-mail, instant messaging and more. They’ve grown up with it, watching it evolve and accepting it seamlessly into every facet of their lives. It’s changed the way they think – and by extension the way they learn.
According to international education consultant and author Marc Prensky this generation of technophiles – a group he dubs “Digital Natives” – has a tremendous amount to offer employers, who should be looking to harness their unique talents.
“This generation is better than any before at absorbing information and making decisions quickly, as well as at multitasking and parallel processing. In contrast, people age 30 or older are ‘digital immigrants’ because they can never be as fluent in technology as a native who was born into it,” he explains.

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Jun 092009
03-online learning and resource production

Image by leighblackall via Flickr

Not so long ago learning new skills meant taking time out to go to college, enrolling on a training course or wading through mountains of books, but the internet is changing all of that.
E-learning is revolutionising the way Irish people learn. Now all you need is a PC with a broadband internet connection and you can “attend” a course on practically anything from the comfort of your own home.

What is E-Learning

E-learning is an exciting new form of distance learning that harnesses the power of the internet to deliver interactive course material online. The beauty of E-Learning is its flexibility: you learn at your own pace, at times that suit you, from any computer with an internet connection anywhere in the world.
You don’t have to travel to the classroom – the classroom comes to you. Course material is available 24/7, and with newer e-learning technologies you can even attend “live” online classrooms and interact with your tutor and “classmates” in real time.
In fact, you can cover almost anything you can accomplish in a traditional classroom or training room, all from the comfort of your own PC.

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