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Review of "learndirect.co.uk"

published 18/12/2004 | fbaggy
Member since : 25/08/2003
Reviews : 16
Members who trust : 3
About me :
Pro Learning at your own speed
Cons Learning at your own speed
very helpful

"European Computer Driving License"

Back in September, I received an email from my union asking if anyone wanted to go on a European Computer Driving License (ECDL) course through Learn direct.

After first reading this wrong and thinking it was a driving course for people planning to go to Europe I realised it was learning about computers.

I am quite competent on the computer but everything I have learnt is self taught by pressing buttons and seeing what happens so I decided that as I had nothing to lose (the union was paying the fees) I would sign up for it.

I first filled out the form that union provided then I received an email asking me to ring the learn direct centre. I did this and they arranged for me to go to my local centre to enrol. (I believe you can enrol online but I wasn’t given this opportunity).


When I went into the centre I was first introduced to my 'personal' tutor.
Then I filled out some basic forms (name, address etc).
Then my tutor left me to go through a form where I rated my own skills in a number of things including mathematical, understanding English etc)
I then had a chat with my tutor who explained the course and the modules. She checked if I wanted to learn from home or learn in the centre; what the speed of my internet was and finally how long per week I would spend on the course.
From this we decided what module I was going to do first.
I decided my first module would be Excel. I chose this one because even though I use it a lot in work it was still a mystery to me.


I was given a pack including a disk with some programmes on it that the course programme required you to have. In case you are connected to the internet by 56k they also give you a disk with the learning on it. This is because people on 56k found it virtually impossible to do the on line course due to the length of time it took to load each page) I was then set a target for when I would complete the Excel module. (For me this is the end of February).


My tutor then set me up a user name and I input my own password. She has to set you up so that you can access the learn direct web site from your home. She then showed me round the virtual learning world. She gave me a pack with lots of literature in it. And explained the 24/7 free phone helpline number in case of any problems.
Then I was sent on my way.

The Course:

I was of course very eager to get started. My tutor had filled me with enthusiasm to get on with the course.
I sat at the pc and installed the programmes required. Then logged on to the site.
Each module you do is then split into smaller modules. The Excel is split into 9 modules. These are

• Basic Concept
• Entering and formatting data
• Basic Formulas and functions
• Editing and organising data
• Charts
• Customising worksheets
• Advanced formulas and functions
• Importing objects into a workbook
• Distributing your worksheet

Each of these modules is split into further smaller sub titles.

Is it easy to use?

For this I say yes and no.

Yes because the learning consists of reading, listening and writing. Therefore because we are using 3 of our learning abilities it will sink into our brain easier.
Each subject brings up a box and a voice reads out the words on the screen (the voice can get annoying if you let it). The voice will sometimes ask you questions for which you have to press the correct button. For e.g. it may ask which shortcut keys you would use to print a document. Even though you could use the print button at the top of the screen it wants you to press ctrl+p. After each point it makes in that learning you press the go on button to go to the next page.
After each module(Basic concept etc) you then do an assessment. Sometimes you will also do a consolidation exercise.

No because there is no actual pause button. As you are writing the stuff as she is talking I feel a pause button would be useful. There is a kind of pause button, but when you press the resume button it goes back to the beginning of the page it is on. This can be really really annoying when you have to listen to the same point on numerous occasions until you can get back to the part you need to.
The assessments I learnt the hard way do not allow for little mistakes you can make. For e.g. it asks a question and your hand may be on the mouse and you click something by mistake. This is annoying because it does affect your score (as I found out during the Basic Concept assessment where I only got 88%). I soon learnt by this mistake and remove my hand from the mouse until I am sure I have read the question and know where I want to click).

How do I learn?

I decided that even though I agreed to do 2 hours per week on the course that this is not enough. I prefer to get each module done in one go. This means that sometimes (e.g. Charts) I can be on the computer for 5 hours. On other occasions though (Importing objects into your workbook) the timing can be 1 hour. Because of this, even though I have agreed to finish this module by the end of February I will in fact have it completed by next week (only on module to go).


I believe that what happens next is that I go into the classroom for a small tutorial followed by an exam. If I pass the exam (the pass mark I believe is 75%) then I can choose the next module to do.

I have learnt so much from doing Excel (can’t tell you the number of times I have said WOW) that I can’t wait to get this finished and go onto Word.

The cost?

Very sorry but I haven’t got a clue how much the whole ECDL costs. From the learn direct web site it appears to charge per module(Excel, Word etc) and there is funding available to those who qualify. I am very lucky in that the course and exams have been paid for by my union.

The cons

You have to be self motivated and have the ability to shut yourself away from family life whilst doing each module. This can be hard at times e.g. when the kids are killing each other or your partner wants something. I tend to tell the family not to disturb me as I am at college (even though I am sat in my dining room). This doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try.

The pros

Learning at your own speed. If you don’t understand something you can get the voice to go over and over something. If you still don’t understand you can contact your tutor via the internal messaging system to ask for advice or you can phone the 24/7 helpline.

On the whole for me the pro's far out way the cons which is why I have given this course a personal recomendation of excellent.

At the moment I am loving this way of learning. I haven’t had to learn anything (apart from worky type things) for 20 years. I am surprised at how easy I have got back my learner brain.

For more information on ECDL go to http://catalogue.learndirect.co.uk/qualifications/details/547720/?view=Standard

To answer a comment that has been made on this review:
Unfortunately I couldnt do an op purely on ecdl as there wasnt a thing for it. It was not meant to be an op on all Learn direct but on EDCL done through learn direct that is why i titled it in that manner.
I have not tried any other learn direct courses therefore can not comment on them.

OOPs apparantly there is a thing for just edcl, however I couldnt find it when I went looking so please excuse my ignorance.

17/1/05. Just done my first test..first test in over 20 years. Will find out later in the week if I have passed. Now I have started the word processing part of the course.

24/1/05 Just been told I passed my excel part of the course with a result of 98%.

17/2/05 I have now been doing the word part of the course for one month. I have learnt some stuff in word but boy oh boy I am finding this part real hard going. Not because the course is hard but because I already know quite alot about word.I still keep going through each module just in case there is something I dont know but I am so glad I didnt do word first.
As a result of me knowing quite alot of it I have only 2 modules left. I was originally given till June to get it done..Now if I could only motivate myself to get these last 2 bits done.
Then I will have to wonder which bit am I going to do next. Anyone any suggestions.

26/2/05 Hmmm. I received a certificate in the post on Thursday. Beautiful certificate. However.....It was for word processing..not excel. I emailed my tutor who has replied that I should post the certificate back to them and they will arrange for the Excl one to be sent to me.

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Comments on this review

  • missixty published 25/05/2005
    Hoping to do some distance learning in the near future but definately not in word/excel etc. Good op though x
  • Averilla published 21/03/2005
    Well written and comprehensive review. Av xx
  • sallysmith1973 published 18/03/2005
    Very good review. I've often thought about these courses, will look into. Thanks. Sal x
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