Distance Education other than College

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by ebbwvale, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    I have now entered the post college phase of my life. I think I have enough university education to last me for the rest of my existence. I am interested in competency or career based training programs that are offered in non academic settings e.g. copywriting, carpentry, locksmithing. Not very good examples but practice based educational experiences that are not aimed at high theory.

    Is there enough interest to create a discussion forum for this sort of educational experience?
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  3. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    I actually checked them and I thought that they were good value. I am interested in writing but I do not want to do another degree for something that I am doing for interest sake. I am halfway through another Masters on another topic and I will finish it, but that's the absolute end of academic education. Time to pursue fun stuff or something with less theorizing at least.
    I think that there may be some good stuff from the UK as well. I guess that you can get courses in the competency or less academic stuff that is rubbish as well. The trick may be to find quality there like this board has for degree programs. A lot of people want to something, but not college. Worthy of a discussion at least.
  4. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    Penn Foster also has a freelance writing program that might interest you. I've considered taking that sometime.
  5. siersema

    siersema Member

    I've taken some distance courses for IT training. Thankfully my employer has always paid because these courses are expensive compared to your typical college course. Most of the time this training is product specific.
  6. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Here's a long-established Canadian School that makes an interesting proposal:

    With several courses, if you don't make your tuition amount back from your writing - by the time you finish the course, they'll refund your money. :smile:

    "If you have not earned the equivalent of the course fees through your writing by the time you have completed the course, The Writing School will refund all of your money. It's as simple as that."

    Courses are reasonable - about $750. The Writing School - Learn to Write From Your Own Home

    Johann (and no -- I don't work for them or have any affiliation with the school, or even know anyone who does, or even went there.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2013
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I took a writing certificate program from my local uni -- finished it about 10 years ago. Some core courses were required, plus several electives, to bring the total course time to around 225 hours, IIRC. Individual courses were usually about 25 instruction hours, with some reaching into the30s.

    The cert. was said by the uni to be equivalent to 15 credits -- subject to various conditions, the prevailing winds, a vow of poverty and an oath of secrecy.

    It was interesting. I did learn something about writing -- mainly that the best way of learning was by doing lots of it. The instruction quality varied widely, from rather poor to very good. Properly qualified instructors - MA or Ph.D. - except for the screenwriting guy, who I don't believe had any degree at all. His major skill was self-inflation and I bailed on his course --switched into poetry after the first class.

    My favourite instructor was the poetry professor. At the same time, I was also taking an accounting course on the same campus for a different qualification. The contrast - Accounting and Poetry was quite invigorating. I did get some small amount of stuff, prose and poetry, published as a result.

    Total cost was somewhere around $2,200 and it took me (nights) two academic years. Was it stellar? No. I'd call it good, though. I don't regret it at all. Unfortunately, the school no longer offers that program.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2013
  8. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    The suggestions so far have been good. I do think that sometimes we can go down the academic route when perhaps we need to something more targeted and aligned more with a trade or a craft.

    I think, from limited experience, that writing is some guidance and a lot or practice. Some writers are gifted for sure, but I don't think I am one of them. In my case, it is a hobby that may pay something or nothing. The enjoyment is in the creation and learning a new skill.

    Most of previous writing has been academic and I have been published in peer reviewed journals. Now I would like to go the simple narrative and tell stories from imagination, not a wad of evidence and cited works. I am also over the inflated material in some courses that universities offer. Just some practical guidance and let me do my incompetent best.

    Anyway, enough of my ambitions. I do not see much discussed about courses offered by distance or online learning in crafts and trades. I suspect that may be people who do not wish to go to college. Many may have been and are now wanting something more focused to get work or don't want another huge college debt. Others, like me, may want to pursue an interest that requires some training, but not another college degree. I was aware of Penn Foster, not the Canadian writing course so I have had an immediate gain. I wonder how many others may be looking for something similar in crafts or trades? How do you assess quality in the training area? This forum does well with degree granting institutions perhaps it is time to examine non-degree granting institutions as well?
  9. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    The Writing School looks good. I wonder if there are any graduates who attend this forum? Here is another one from the UK:

    Creative Writing Course - Learn Creative Writing with our Home-Study Creative Writing Course
  10. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    As I see it, hands-on subjects - crafts and trades, are not best-taught by distance. I've had experience of one correspondence school that tries to teach such subjects - anything from plumbing and carpentry to computer programming. Although I was successful in the courses I took - it would have been difficult to fail - the courses didn't qualify anyone for anything. They were a total failure. The only ability required was the 3 Rs - read, retain and regurgitate. I believe computer programming can be successfully taught online - by another school - but trades ...I dunno. There has to be an extensive practical component and there's a set certification path, apprenticeship etc. for most.

    If you just want to learn enough about, say, woodwork, for a hobby - find an on-ground class near you. I have a relative who was already a seasoned "hobby" woodworker who honed his knowledge with some cabinet-making courses at the local community college. I've taken half-a-dozen residential construction-related courses the same way and those worked out well. The college has a fully-equipped trades centre. Much better than the courses-by-mail. I advise the same for crafts. Besides, it can be nice to be around others with the same interest.

    Writing? I agree -some instruction and unlimited practice. I found learning to write was a fascinating process - not that I claim any expertise - but learning to get published and sell writing was no fun whatsoever. The courses at the British school seem very reasonable - about $400.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2013
  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Another personal observation that may not work for everybody:

    The more you read, the better for learning to write. Pick authors who write as well as you want to. Take their stuff apart -- see how it works. I'm not advocating plagiarism here -- or strict imitation, either. More as inspiration than anything else.


    "Imitation - 'tis the sincerest form of Flaherty." - anonymous Irish wag
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2013
  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Here's something that may inspire some would-be writers. Free downloadable lectures on the Nobel Prize Winners for Literature, from U. of Houston.

    Nobel Prize Winners in Literature Course, University of Houston Literature Video Tutorials, Irving Rothman

    Reminds me - years ago, I picked up a (then) complete set of works that won the Nobel Prize for Literature. About 30 volumes, for $15 at a Goodwill store. Should go nicely with these lectures...but will I win a Nobel Prize? Not likely! :smile:

  13. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I agree that crafts and trades are difficult to learn by distance. There are several other DETC schools that offer these programs such as Ashworth College and U.S. Career Institute.
  14. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    I agree that distance learning alone would not be enough for a trade ticket. Years ago in this country one distance learning trade college used to place you with a tradesman for the practical after completing the coursework. We also used to have a competency based exam where people who did not do an apprenticeship could prove their skill and get a ticket. This used to be important for ex military tradespeople because their military trade ticket was not always recognized by civil authorities. Air Force engine mechanics, for example, could not work on civil aircraft. I don't know how it all fits together now. Presumably, they have resolved this nonsense.

    In this country, they are wanting tradespeople more than people with degrees. There is big money to be made in certain sectors if you are skilled. Getting an apprenticeship is not so easy so alternative trade training may be the way to go. I, however, won't be pursuing any trade. I learned early in the day that I was a nightmare when I put on the tool belt. I also hate getting furniture that has to be put together as well. There is always something left over and nothing is ever in square. You end up sitting on stuff that you are never really confident about. I must admit that I never read directions until after I have made "the horse a camel" and, by that stage, I am unfit to read and follow anything.

    Hopefully, I can develop a writing craft that may or may not earn a few dollars. If it doesn't, then I have lost nothing and gained some personal growth. After the flat style of academic writing, I am finding writing emotional pieces challenging but refreshing. It is almost like reverting to my past writing before I was challenged by the university tutors for emotional rather than evidence based arguments.
  15. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes. And the problem is, that's all most of the matchbook-and-magazine distance schools have to offer. They don't care about the hands-on portion - "not their job."

    Exactly the same here (Canada). We can't seem to train nearly enough ourselves, so we import our tradesmen from abroad. Been going on a long time. That's how my Dad got here, in 1951! :smile:

    Some people make a science of "making the horse a camel" when it comes to put-together furniture. Ever seen this kind of site? There are a few. IKEA Hackers

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2013
  16. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  17. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I think it's a fun example too, Kizmet, but it's not unique. This is a list of "odd" degrees from Yahoo about a year ago and you'll see it includes another degree in "fermentation sciences" - i.e. beer making.

    10 Odd College Degrees You've Never Heard Of

    Around here, Wine Country starts about 100 yards east of my son's front door. :smile: Niagara College, which I graduated from (1989) has an on-campus winery and craft brewery. It offers full-length programs in both fields and other programs in the hospitality industry. Here's their Teaching Brewery page.


    The craft brewing industry has just gone through the roof, here in Ontario!

    Here's another college (NC) offering a beer degree. http://www.gastongazette.com/news/local/nc-college-offering-degree-in-beer-1.169258

    There are also schools (Central Washington University is one) that will teach you to be certified as a cicerone - which is not a Mafia don, but the beer equivalent of the wine world's sommelier. :smile: Here's an article:

    How to Earn A Graduate Degree in Beer | FirstWeFeast.com

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2013
  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Whoops - sorry, Kizmet. My second NC beermaking school is the same one you cited. I do note that two other schools in the state will be working on this program as well - Asheville Buncombe Tech. and Rockingham CC.

    UC Davis is also offering a Master Brewer's Program:

    - UC Davis Extension

    Colorado State has built an in-house brewery for its major in fermentation sciences:

    Colorado college students get degrees in brewing - The Denver Post

    There's also the Siebel Institute in Chicago, which calls itself "America's Oldest Brewing School."

    Siebel Institute of Technology

    Cheers! "Prosit!" :smile:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2013
  19. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    I now have renewed hope. Firstly, there may be a market for my adventures with furniture, other than Youtube. Secondly, I can become a brewer. In this country, I will make a killing, hopefully not literally. The problem with the second choice are the medicos that have made drinking alcohol a thing of the past for me. Probably not best to participate in forums after sampling your product anyway.

    I did at one time have visions of becoming a master brewer (in my home anyway), but I gave up after, a few exploding bottles, and a product that looked like mud and probably could have been used as jet fuel. I will say that, contrary to family rumors, none of my neighbours went blind.

    Back on the trade skills, there are university graduates now going to trade colleges to do Vocational Graduate Diplomas so that they can get jobs. The university used to be a pathway to wealth and wellbeing, not so much now. There has been an oversupply of graduates and a shortage in the trades for at least a decade or more.

    Racking up huge debts for no prospects of work or at least fierce competition is not so smart. It is probably a case study for how long a belief can continue past the evidence. We continue to think that university is the key to success when it is clear, on the evidence, the goalposts have changed.

    I blame this on the universities that have continued to market the myth and expand into fields that do not require university education. Lawyers area great example. Beforehand, the profession was limited to securing articles with a law firm and passing the professional exams. This limited the intake to what work was available. The lawyer did not have a huge university debt. He/she did not have to do an undergraduate degree before entering law school. Now the profession is now dominated by the J.D. and a post J.D. practice diploma. The law graduate is struggling to find work and pay back the debt. I also note that lawyers fees have gone up.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2013
  20. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I'm an ex-drinker, too. Eight or nine years now. Fortunately, medics had nothing to do with that, or any other of my decisions. Only the good die young, so I have a long way to go! :smile: Mine was just a personal thing and I don't expect it would work for most people -- they're entitled to keep drinking whatever they enjoy -- I did for 40+ years.

    On the plus side, I put away every penny that I saved by not buying booze -- and it's quite a tidy pile. Wish I'd done the same when I gave up smoking 35 years ago. Both savings would add up to close to $100,000 now. With interest? Who knows?

    I don't know how popular (or legal) this is, in the U.S. or Australia, but "U-Brew" is a BIG thing, here. You can go to a store, put on your chosen type of wine or beer (with expert supervision). 30 days later, you come back and take it home (beer) or bottle-and-take (wine). It saves a LOT of money - no Government liquor store markup or eight levels of tax. Normal sales tax, just as if it were pop.

    About 15 years ago, I remember a particular batch of Italian-style red wine I made at a U-Brew. It cost (then) about $3 a bottle and was (I thought) the equal of any imported Italian wine I could buy for $8 or $9 back then. I gave some to friends and they were in general agreement. A real good thing!

    I agree with your remark below - totally.

    "Racking up huge debts for no prospects of work or at least fierce competition is not so smart. It is probably a case study for how long a belief can continue past the evidence. We continue to think that university is the key to success when it is clear, on the evidence, the goalposts have changed."

    I don't think people are inherently stupid, although Einstein said human stupidity was infinite. Great thinker, but I wouldn't want his advice on life... I've checked out his own, a bit. :sad: But I do admit many are docile and easily-led. They choose what (for them) may be not-so-smart things because propagandists tell them they are still smart choices. Myths can be perpetuated for a long time - but not forever. I think we're slowly seeing an awakening.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2013

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