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Blended Learning- Clare

For recent graduates of Portobello Institute, Christina O’Dea, local of Kilrush, and Marilyn Smith, a local of Miltownmalbay, the commute to and from the college wouldn’t have been possible due to work and family. Both graduates worked part-time but were able to avoid travelling by studying their degrees under the Blended Learning method.

Here at Portobello, we strive to give make learning as accessible as possible. Blended Learning allows students to study their degree with both the freedom of distance learning while providing them with some in-class learning, giving them the time to work during the week too.

Marilyn told of how there was a lot of work and she found there were times where a lot of work was needed in a short space of time, but that she was still able to manage, even with work and minding her twins. She is delighted to have done the course through Blended Learning as she isn’t sure if she could’ve done it either way, especially when she needed to mind her kids during the week and travelling to college wouldn’t have allowed her to do this.

Likewise, Christina said it was quite difficult at times, but it was great for not having to commute every day if she had studied a full-time course. Doing college work on her days off from her job was the best way of scheduling it as it gave her time to relax a bit after the days where she did work. However, Christina admits that she would probably prefer face-to-face learning but that she is glad to have done this degree through Blended Learning, giving her the experience of it and for the convenience.

Time management is key to online learning, as Christina noted that if you didn’t manage your time properly and worked hard, you could easily fall behind and be in trouble. However, as both graduates highlighted, as they had some days off from their jobs, it was at these times that they studied and did their college work which made it very manageable. It was very rewarding to work by yourself but still be guided by tutors, Marilyn told.

Though studying after coming home from work could be difficult, Christina told, sometimes it was necessary to do so. At times, when there was a lot of work you could feel swamped, but it was always manageable and it never became too much to handle, in the end it was all worth it. Having their degrees makes a huge difference and wouldn’t have been possible to get any other way. The graduates worked hard to achieve what they set out to do at the start of their course and succeeded.

Tutors provided good feedback in emails and were responsive to emails, both said, and the best part of the course were the student group chats on WhatsApp. Marilyn had one tutor who set up a group chat with her students, allowing for quick replies with everyone learning from each other’s questions- a real help she felt. These chats gave students the ability to get answers straightaway from each other and from their tutors, support one another and to just have conversations about the course in general.

Marilyn said that she will need a year break before going onto a Level 8 degree, though she will definitely be doing one, saying that her kids were pretty happy to hear when she told them that she won’t have any more homework to do on the weekends. As for Christina, she said she will be going onto do a Level 8 but will prefer to do it full-time as she thinks the face-to-face approach suits her better, though she was happy to have tried the online learning experience but it just wasn’t for her.




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