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e-learning can give you the freedom and flexibility to learn when and where you want and at your own pace. You can study a wide range of subjects at any level, and e-learning can be ideal if the subject you're interested in isn't available nearby.

What are the benefits of e-learning?

e-learning makes use of information and communications technology to provide innovative ways to learn. Distance learning covers learning remotely on courses such as home study or 'self-study' courses, which can be combined with e-learning. e-learning may appeal to you if you:

  • want to learn when and where you want, at your own pace
  • have commitments which make it harder for you to attend a regular course
  • have mobility or health problems that make travel or attendance difficult
  • live a long way from a training provider
  • work irregular hours or shifts
  • Learning and education

How does e-learning work?

A variety of media is used to help with learning and to provide communication between learners and tutors. These include:

  • traditional written materials, such as books and manuals
  • television and radio broadcasts
  • audio tapes and CD-ROMs
  • online information
  • online groups
  • video conferencing
  • email support

Your tutor can provide support by phone, email, online or by post.

You might be able to communicate with other learners by email or website discussion groups. This helps you learn from the rest of the group and comment on each other's work. There is usually a good range of support available to help you organise your time and manage your learning.

To get a feel of what e-learning is like, try taking a free taster course online. If you don't have internet access at home, you can get free access at libraries. Staff will also be able to help you.

The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest university in Europe, with more than two million people taking courses to further their careers, make up for missed opportunities, or pursue personal interests. Open University courses generally have no entry requirements, and no upper age limit. Courses range from short courses for people who have never studied before to specialist courses aimed at postgraduates.

If you haven't studied for some time or are interested in a new subject, short courses and a special programme called the 'Openings Programme' can help you discover if OU study is right for you. OU qualifications mark academic success but also show that you have commitment, ambition and self discipline.