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How to study a practical course online

by Amanda Collins

** This article was last updated in June 2020**

Studying a hands-on course like building and construction, horticulture or aged care online may sound odd. You might be thinking, ‘Is that even possible?‘ And the answer is yes, it is definitely possible.

In fact, with Open Colleges it’s more than possible – it’s what we do best!

We spend hundreds of hours designing our practical courses so you get the very best education, including plenty of opportunities to gain practical, hands-on experience.

We do this in six different ways.

1. Simulated scenarios

Simulated scenarios are computer-generated simulations of a standard workplace in a specific field, like a health clinic or a building site.

They are included in students’ course materials and give learners a chance to explore the work environment. You’ll meet fictional staff members and learn, practice and test your skills in a virtual workplace setting.

how to study a practical subject online with simulated scenarios

An example of a simulated scenario in an Allied Health course.

2. Workplace projects

Workplace projects are performed by students in real work settings under the guidance of qualified mentors.

What this means is that students will take their online learning and put it to use performing specific tasks in a real-world workplace.

This is to help give you a better understanding of how the theory you’ve learned translates into a practical setting, while also giving you valuable hands-on experience.

You can learn more about workplace projects here.

3. Work placement

Open Colleges’ practical courses often contain a work placement. Similar to workplace projects, a work placement allows students to put their online learning into practice in a workplace of their choosing.

Where a work placement differs is that it takes place over a longer period than a workplace project. A workplace project is often a single set task that a student will complete under the guidance of a mentor, whereas work placement will usually require you to spend a number of hours (usually over 100 hours) in a work environment.

During work placement, students gain experience in a real workplace under the guidance of industry professionals and learn valuable on-the-job skills. It is also a good opportunity to make connections in the industry, and to even make new friends.

Find out more about work placements here.

4. Industry memberships and networking

On some courses, Open Colleges has partnered with industry heavyweights to grant students access to professional memberships and networking opportunities, including regular industry meet-ups.

So before students have even finished studying, they have access to industry membership and all its benefits, including insider knowledge on what’s happening in the industry and potential jobs.

It also means that students can meet and mingle with others in their industry to make job connections.

5. Professional kits and equipment

Students who study practical courses, like beauty therapy and nail technology, receive industry-grade kits which they can use at home to practice what they learn online.

These kits include professional equipment and tools, and allow students to master techniques and skills before going out into the workplace.

An example of the design kit students of the MSF40118 Certificate IV in Interior Decoration receive.

6. Immersive course content

Open Colleges believes that people learn in many different ways. Some gain a lot from reading and some learn by listening, while others love to get in and get practical, and some learn from observation.

To make sure everyone gets the very best learning experience, Open Colleges’ study materials include videos, podcasts, readings, work placement, simulated scenarios, and an online community where you can ask questions, chat and meet fellow students.

By learning from a range of mediums, you have the best chance of immersing yourself in your course, and letting those all-important practical skills become second nature.

This is all part of the OpenSpace experience. OpenSpace is our world-class online learning platform, which has been custom-built to ensure our students get the most out of their online course. An online course shouldn’t be something that has been transplanted from a classroom lesson into an online format – it is its own experience, and should be treated as such. That’s what we believe at Open Colleges, which is why we designed OpenSpace with that very purpose in mind.

Watch videos, listen to podcasts or read the content to immerse yourself in the course.

Practical courses are possible online

Studying a practical course online offers the perfect mix of flexibility and quality education, with hands-on experience.

Online course content like simulated scenarios, as well as professional training kits and workplace projects, teach and prepare you for work placement later in your studies. Industry memberships ensure you know what’s going on within the industry, and help you make excellent job contacts.

Studying online doesn’t mean you miss out on practical experience. You’ll get the best of both worlds, and you’ll be fully job-ready when you graduate.

Ready to start studying online?

Whether you’re hoping to get into the workforce or are just looking for a change of direction, Open Colleges has a huge variety of different courses that could help you reach your potential. Find your course now.  . Find your course now. 

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