If you’re working full-time, but want to gain those extra qualifications to progress your career or simply fill the hours, the OU has a lot to offer. But is it for everyone?

I’ve recently finished a course at the Open University – Certificate in Web Applications Development. The course was broken down into 6 short courses or modules, each lasting 12 weeks and credited with 10 points.

This was my first experience of studying with the OU, although I have to say, this isn’t the typical course with tutors and regular meetings. It was completely based online, so all communication with fellow students and the odd moderator was done through a course forum.

Although this sounds like a good idea for those who work full time and can’t commit to tutorials, it does pose an issue if you get stuck and no one answers your pleas for help in the forum.

My motivation for doing the course was to learn new skills that I could apply to my job and also receive a recognised qualification at the end of it.

The course was intended to take up around 8 hours a week, which doesn’t sound like much, but once I got into the more complex topics, it could easily take double that time meaning it was easy to fall behind if you didn’t get a head start at the beginning.

The course content was great as each course was pretty much stand-alone and contained all the necessary subjects to do with developing web applications, albeit at a reasonably basic level. If you didn’t like one module, it didn’t really matter because the next one would be different.

Would I recommend studying at the OU? Well, yes, if you’re able to prioritise tasks, keep to a schedule and delegate your other responsibilities. You’ll also need to be able to cope without the face to face contact of tutors.

I found that the only time I had spare and could face more hours in front of a computer was on a weekend, which meant sacrificing weekends for 2 years. If your working hours are more flexible or you’re able to work on an evening, I would imagine this course would be a lot easier.

One word of caution about this particular course is that the course materials were written in 2008 and the course itself will be discontinued from around 2012 (I believe), therefore the course materials are somewhat dated and resources provided were often returning 404 errors, so you need to be checking the forums for the correct links constantly.

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