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Never did we think we would be spending several months in complete Lockdown in spring/summer 2020. But here we are – dealing with the unexpected and trying to make it through each day. There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has forced a lot of us to slow down and assess our lifestyles. Whether you’ve been put on furlough, or are surviving on Universal Credits. Or you’re continuing to work from home like normal. You can look at Covid-19 as a negative and see the way it has stopped your life in its tracks. Or you can choose to focus on the positive and welcome this opportunity with open arms.

Never before have we had time to just “be”. We’ve had all of life’s distractions taken away – from our crazy work lives, our daily commute and obsessive gym culture. To our productivity levels and overwhelming guilt that we’re never quite doing enough. Now is our time to focus on what we’ve always wanted to do. Fancying a career change? Always wanted to learn a new skill or expand your knowledge and level up? No more excuses or saying you would do it if you had the time – now is the time! I’ve managed to complete 4 online courses during lockdown – my TEFL, a wellbeing course, a mental health course and a social media course. I’m not saying you need to do lots of courses – but if there’s one you’ve always wanted to try, now is the time!

Girl with pile of textbooks and mirror - choosing an online course

Why consider online courses during Lockdown?

You know all those big ideas we always have about all the things we would do if we had the time? Well, we’ve been handed the time on a silver platter. Not everyone, but most people out there are either claiming Universal Credits or on furlough which means you’re essentially being paid to stay home. You will never get a better opportunity to learn a new skill, increase your employability or even put the wheels in motion for a move to a new career.

We are so privileged to have access to such amazing online courses and resources. So many people in poorer countries would do anything for the opportunities we have. It seems such a shame to waste having both the access and the free time to learn. You can get online courses in pretty much any subject, language, level of ability – and better yet, there are so many free online courses, and extremely budget-friendly options. As a result of Coronavirus putting everyone into Lockdown – many organisations are offering either free courses or some that are government-funded for anyone who wants to learn.

The problem of productivity

Now I want to stress that I’m not in any way suggesting that you HAVE to use this time productively. I think, in the UK particularly, we are all guilty of always being “busy” and never just allowing ourselves to “be”. The problem of productivity is widespread. I’ve been as guilty as anyone of feeling like if I’m not bettering myself in some way, or monetising every moment that I’m not working hard enough. But the truth is, no-one has to be busy – it’s perfectly okay to use this time to slow down.

You might find that career development isn’t high on your list of priorities right now, but why not use the time for personal development? Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to study, or a topic that you’re passionate about? I just completed a course in wellbeing purely because I was interested in the subject matter. Don’t feel like online courses are only about being productive. It could be a great time to learn photography, take a creative writing course or sign up for Spanish classes.

Which online course? Boost career, girl choosing course

3 questions to ask yourself during Furlough:

Okay, so you’ve been put on furlough – it’s not ideal but don’t see it as a negative. This could be a great opportunity to focus on you, and your personal goals. So often when we’re busy with work, it can be easy to get the goals of the company mixed up with our own. We get caught up in our job role and forget to check whether it still aligns with our own aims. Furlough could be a great time to step back and reassess where we want to be and how we’re going to get there. If we’re not quite where we want to be – it’s a good time to look at online courses and learning opportunities to see if they might help us to get there.

Is your job role the right one for you?

Make a list of all the responsibilities you have in your role, and all the skills you have. Ask yourself whether you’re utilising your skills to the best of your abilities. Are you getting a fair wage for your level of experience? And most importantly – are you still learning from your job and is there room for you to progress? If the answer to any of these questions is no – perhaps it’s time to either develop your skill set so you can progress to the next level. Or, it might be time to think about either discussing your role with your boss, or moving into a new job. Obviously you might not be able to act on all of this straight away during Lockdown, but it’s a good time to get your head straight before you go back to work.

If your work/life balance the way you want it?

We all have different priorities when it comes to work. Some people are very career-focused with defined goals, others are happier to take a slower working pace if it means a better work/life balance. Furlough is a really good time to assess your work-life balance – was it a relief to be given this breathing time? Are you spending a lot of time exhausted or stressed? If so, it might mean your balance is off and you need to reassess before you return to it. If furlough is actually boring to you, and you wish you were back at work. Perhaps it’s time you focused on your life outside of work and invested some time in your own hobbies. Such a big and sudden change to your routine is perfect for highlighting where you might be going wrong in your daily life.

What’s your plan for your future working life?

How far ahead are you thinking? Have you got a goal for the next five years, or the next 10 years? Think about whether you want to reach a certain position within the company. Perhaps your goal is to go freelance, or even reduce your hours so you have more time for hobbies or volunteering. Maybe you’re working flat-out to save money to buy a house, move abroad or to invest in rental properties and grow your passive income. There are so many ways to live your life and grow your career to really reap the benefits in your home life. It’s not always about being a high-flying business owner or getting the most money – often it’s about finding the perfect balance and being comfortable.

Textbooks stack, laptop and flowers

Over 20 online courses to boost your CV

Government recommendations for lockdown learning – FREE

If you really don’t know where to start with online learning during Coronavirus and Lockdown, don’t forget there is a lot of government advice available. If you’re finding it overwhelming and don’t know which websites to focus on, or which ones are accredited. Use government resources to ensure you choose the best option:

Learn a language and join a language school – ££

I always say that being able to speak multiple languages is one of the most valuable skills you can have. Whether it’s for work, or simply for a love of language. When you open yourself up to learning to communicate in new ways, you open yourself up to new cultures. Right before lockdown started I was about to start Spanish school in Cartagena, Colombia. Sadly that partnership had to be postponed, but I’ve formed a new one with Whee Institute (based in Bogota, Colombia)  who are now offering new online Spanish classes for students to sign up and learn online. Whether you’re planning to travel, work abroad or just love the language – it’s a great time to boost your CV with language learning online courses. Find out more about online Spanish classes at Whee Institute.

If Spanish isn’t the language for you – try Rocket Languages for award-winning online language courses and a dynamic learning system. Basing their learning techniques on science and strategies used by those who speak multiple languages, their programmes will have you speaking and understanding a new language from your first lesson. Over 1,200,000 people have mastered a new language using their online courses. You can currently learn a wide variety of languages including French, English, Spanish, Italian. Plus more complex languages like Korean, Japanese, Hindi, Russian, sign language and Chinese.

Learn French

Qualify as a teacher with TEFL UK – ££

Ever since I first started travelling over six years ago. It’s been a goal of mine to complete my TEFL certificate. I wanted to have the option to be able to teach English abroad. It’s something I had always put off, making excuses about not having enough time. Well, when lockdown started, I realised I would never find the time, I had to make the time. So I did and a few weeks ago, I qualified to teach English. It’s not something I plan to use straight away, but it’s a personal goal that I’ve achieved. One that has broadened my skill set and widened my opportunities to live and work abroad with ease.

I studied with TEFL UK and paid just £99 for the 120 Hour Professional TEFL Course which took me a few weeks to complete. The course materials are not too intense – other than polishing up your grammar skills – and are easy to understand. Plus TEFL UK offer great online support for this distance learning course. They also offer a range of other courses including 140, 150 and 170 hour courses plus various others. The qualification is internationally recognised and – most importantly – fully accredited. Plus, they offer great job support with an award-winning job placement team and access to jobs worldwide.

tefl course discount

Online mental health training through Furlonteer – FREE

If you’re on furlough with no idea how to fill your time and want to ensure you’re using your skills to the best of your ability. Why not sign up for Furlonteer? I’ve just done this and within a week, they’ve already found me a suitable placement! You sign up and let them know which skills you can offer. Then they find you a suitable remote volunteering opportunity. Volunteers can choose how many hours they can spare, and it means you can use this time to support great causes. Plus an extra bonus – you get free access to Online Mental Health training (CPD accredited)! The course takes an hour to complete and is a great one to add to your CV and skill set. Become a Furlonteer today.

Online courses, furlough, lockdown, productivity, coronavirus. Girl with textbooks

1300+ in-demand courses, languages & teacher training – ££

If you want your online learning to be community and sustainably driven – Cudoo is the eLearning platform for you. It offers courses in 160+ world languages and dialects, 1000+ soft skills and even teacher training. But what I love most about the brand is that they offer free-for-life access to non-profits, charities, and public libraries. Every course you purchase enables them to use education to break the cycle of poverty by supporting the studies of those less fortunate. The organisation is also 100% online with no printing required, which has helped eliminate their carbon footprint, and they are partnered with ‘1% for the Planet’ to support environmental solutions.

Cudoo’s courses include English, French, Japanese, as well as less common languages such as Icelandic, Maori, and Lithuanian. Plus courses in accounting and finance, marketing, management or health and safety among many others.

Get academic certificates with FutureLearn – FREE/££

FutureLearn is a digital education platform offering online courses and degrees from leading universities or organisations. Jointly owned by The Open University and SEEK Ltd, the platform offers a range of short courses, microcredentials and programmes, and online degrees. Take your learning further and develop as a professional, or discover a new hobby, while meeting educators from top universities. Study entirely online, with courses from over 140 UK and international partners, and join millions of people worldwide. Courses are available on a huge range of topics including the popular Boredom-busting courses, Business & Management, Healthcare & Medicine and Teaching. There are a huge r

Also, don’t forget to check out their full range of free FutureLearn online courses which includes access to the materials to study hundreds of different course topics. While you may have to pay an upfront yearly subscription fee, you get free access to a huge range of materials to study as many courses as you like.

FutureLearn Unlimited

Learn on your schedule with Udemy – FREE/££

The online learning platform with more than 50 million students, and 57,000 instructors leading courses in over 65 languages. Udemy offers over 100,000 courses in programming, marketing, data science, IT and software, design, business and many more topics. Best of all, when you purchase a course, you get lifetime access to the materials so you can learn on your schedule. There’s thousands of video courses starting at £13.99 each which give you the opportunity to learn from industry experts. Build your library for your career and own personal growth, with courses on photography, music and personal development.

You’ll also be happy to know Udemy have introduced a huge range of free online courses to help you find skills for a new career or to realise a lifelong passion. Find courses on personal growth and wellness, productivity and professional skills, essential tech skills and many more. Explore Udemy free online courses now.

New customer offer! Top courses from £11.99 when you first visit Udemy

1500+ online courses at Certificate/Diploma Level – FREE/££

If you’re feeling like you’ve lost control during Lockdown, learning with Alison could be the perfect way to take back the reins. Join 15 million learners and enjoy high quality free online courses, with certificates, today. Empower yourself with study and up-skill with free online learning and training. Focusing on workplace-based skills, the Irish online education platform has over 1,500 courses available for free access. Popular courses include human resources training, data protection, project management, food hygiene and safety.

Even better – I’ve got a 10% discount available for my followers! By clicking the banner below and signing up for a course – if you complete the course within 30 days, you will get 10% off the overall cost.

Alison course referral

Get a free month with LinkedIn Learning – FREE/££

Use Lockdown to focus on your personal and professional goals by utilising LinkedIn Learning. Learn business, creative, and technology skills through access to thousands of online courses. This includes a huge range of free courses to help grow your skills. Topics include pitching and influencing others, Excel tips, productivity tips, lead generations and selling with authenticity. There are also great courses for helping you find a job including writing a resume, digital networking strategies, video interview tips, digital body language and recession-proof career strategies.

LinkedIn Learning is currently offering a 1 month free trial to access 15,000+ expert-led courses, personalised course recommendations, certificates upon course completion and access to LinkedIn’s Premium Career features. After 1 month, the subscription goes to £24.98 per month. But there are discounts of 40% available on an annual membership.

Girl with laptop under arm, flowers and textbooks, online courses

The Science of Wellbeing with Yale University – FREE

A course that I recently completed purely for my own passion was The Science of Wellbeing by Yale University. When I heard that Yale University were offering a free course, I thought it sounded too good to be true. Wellbeing has been a huge focus of mine over recent years and I was really excited to learn that Coursera were offering a free course on The Science of Wellbeing. Unlike other online courses on wellbeing, this course focuses on the science and studies that have run over the years. Laurie Santos looks at the themes and the theories that have been developed in the field of wellbeing. The 19 hour course is really interactive with a mixture of video lectures, reading, discussion. Plus the challenge to rewire your own behaviour and improve your levels of happiness.

Coursera also offer a range of free online courses from prestigious universities around the world. These include Yale University, Stanford University, London Business School and Johns Hopkins University among many more. There are also various art, fashion and design courses with the Museum of Modern Art. Check out the full list of free online courses at Coursera here.

Learn coding, social media & photography – FREE

I’ve been lusting over Institute of Code’s amazing courses for the last few years. They offer several bootcamps for those wanting to advance their online businesses and skills in web development and social media & content creation. But these bootcamps take place in Bali and have a larger price tag attached, so they aren’t accessible for everyone and certainly not in Lockdown. However, Institute of Code have launched several free online mini-courses that are perfect for advancing your skills in Lockdown. Check out their 7 Day Instagram Challenge and their 7 Day Coding Challenge.

They’ve also worked closely with instagrammers Marie Fe and Jake Snow previously on promoting these courses. The couple are now offering their own free 7 Day Photography Challenge which is a great way to learn new skills.

Study photography and learn a new skill – FREE

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to snap epic photos. Why not try a photography course and learn a new skill just for you. It’s a great skill to have and one you can easily translate to your working life – a great boost for your CV. Or it can simply be a way to indulge a passion. To learn more about how to handle a camera and take better photos. One of the fastest growing photography platforms in the world, Karl Taylor Education is now offering a free photography course.

The course covers essential concepts every photographer should know, from basics such as aperture and shutter speed. To more advanced concepts that even some professionals don’t clearly understand. So whether you already have an interest in photography or simply want to learn how to take to take better travel photos, this course is ideal for you.

Online courses

Take an OpenLearn Course with The Open University – FREE

If furlough has given you the time to consider higher education, OpenLearn free courses have been proven to increase confidence and develop the skills needed to progress. Some course materials are based on Open University courses and others are specifically developed for OpenLearn. Available immediately, the courses have no time limit on them so you can take as long as you need to complete them. With around 1000 courses to choose from, OpenLearn helps give you an idea of what distance learning is like so you can decide whether a higher education Open University course is for you.

30 Level 2 Courses with We Find Any Learner – FREE

Pick up nationally-recognised qualifications through a flexible learning delivery model and study entirely online with We Find Any Learner. Benefit from high quality support throughout your studies and improve, or develop new skills. Many of the courses available can be government-funded so check your eligibility. To qualify for funding so your course is free you simply need be aged 19 or over as of 31st of August 2019, reside in England and have been living in the EU for the last three years or more and not currently completing another government-funded course. Course topics include Understanding Autism, Dementia Care, Mental Health Problems, Nutrition and Health among many others. Find the full course list here.

Use Reed to find free courses online – FREE

Reed.co.uk is a great resource for finding free online courses. If you’re on a tight budget, it could be a perfect way to start studying and expanding your skill set. Why not brush up on your IT skills, or up-skill with a free management course or even a free HR course. Over 50 free online courses are currently available, with plenty more at budget-friendly and affordable prices. Explore the full list of free online courses at Reed.

Have you completed any online courses during Lockdown? Would you like to study for personal or professional development?

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