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Blended Learning- Cork

Working full-time and studying for your degree is a lot to handle, even more so if you have to commute to and from college during weekends. Commuting to college during the week, if you work full-time isn’t possible for most people. Thankfully, technology nowadays allows people the opportunity to study, do assignments, chat to classmates and tutors without even having to leave their home.

Here at Portobello, we want to give every person the chance to study, availing of technology to allow our students to complete their work. We offer courses through our Distance Learning programme, online courses that can be studied at the student’s own pace.

Recent graduates of Portobello, Sharon Brennan and Eileen Kenefick, from Charleville and Youghall respectively, didn’t have to commute in and out of Dublin on a weekly basis, thanks to the online learning approach to their courses. Both graduates, who work full-time, say that the “Distance Learning” approach is the only way to do it if you’re working.

Eileen, who had never gone to college before, found the Distance Learning to certainly be a challenge, however, the real difficulty of it was to motivate herself to do college work after coming home from her own job. Thankfully though, Eileen’s sons were also studying in college and so she said there was a buzz to comparing the difference they were experiencing, so setting aside the time needed to get the work done wasn’t so bad.

Since travelling to and from Dublin for the course wasn’t possible, Sharon saw that doing an online course was potentially the only way to get her degree and she pushed herself to study every day, even after coming home from a long day of work. Though it was difficult, she says it was ultimately more than worth it since she has received her degree, something she didn’t know was possible since she wouldn’t have the time to commute and the financial strain of it too.

Time management is an essential skill for online learning, which both Sharon and Eileen can attest to. Sharon saw that it was hard to manage how and when you were to sit down and study, but once you did it was great. For Eileen, she saw that it saved time, since the other option was to commute which would’ve taken far more time.

Tutors were very responsive and provided great feedback to their draft assignments before the final one. Communication was the key to get through the course with greater ease than by doing it yourself. One could do it all by themselves but by having a WhatsApp group-chat with their other classmates, majority of who lived in other counties across Ireland, students would discuss the class work and shared information with one another. The coursework was still challenging but rewardingly so as you learned from each other and got new perspectives on issues that come in the industries.

Having tutors that could quickly answer queries and that were so approachable, Deborah told, made all the difference. Students also helped each other as both Sharon and Eileen talked about the WhatsApp group chats their classmates made where they would share info, different perspectives and resources with one another, giving the class a better sense of community.

Both Eileen and Sharon say that a level 8 is a possibility, but for the meantime they’re going to take a break from study. For the time being, Sharon is working and spending time with her family, and if she does continue her studies will definitely be doing it through Distance Learning. She is now more employable and has increased her wages, seeing immediate benefits of getting her degree. Eileen says that she really enjoyed learning online, it has made her more aware of issues in the industry and, since she never went to college before, sees it as a personal learning as well as an academic learning experience.

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