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Six benefits of online learning for unpaid carers

Tony, founder of the Carers Wellbeing Academy at Carers Centre Tower Hamlets shares six benefits that online learning has brought to unpaid carers.

Often as carers, our own goals and interests are put aside while we care for another. This can include training for work or courses in an interest or skill like drawing, knitting or learning an instrument.

One of the benefits of today's digital age has been the rise of online courses, accessible at any time of day to anyone with a computer.

As carers, when we're unable to leave the house to do any activities and learning, online courses and group classes can be a good option for us to dip in and out of.

To help us get started, our blog breaks down:

Six benefits of online learning for carers

Here are just some of the reasons why online learning can be a beneficial option for carers.

1. We can learn at our own pace

Online learning allows us to set our own pace. Many online classes are pre-recorded, meaning that we can dip in and out as needed. For ‘live’ classes, timetables can be organised around caring and work responsibilities.

This makes it more likely that we can complete the whole course instead of missing classes because they clash with caring responsibilities. It also means there’s no need to give anything up.

2. We have plenty of choices

Access to information and new knowledge today is infinite. From super niche subjects to broader subjects. Whether we’re looking to start a new hobby or gain a new qualification, the choice is almost endless. In most cases, we don’t even need to physically set foot on a university or college campus.

Many universities or higher education programmes now offer online versions of their courses. From certificates to whole degrees taught online, from music composition to quantum physics. There’s even a qualification in caring – even though most carers could teach that course!

We can also choose 'who' we want to lead our courses if we pick an online course such as MasterClass.

3. Quick way to information and support

If we're relatively new to caring or something changes, quickly finding solutions online related to caring can be really handy. It can help us to understand what the person we care for is dealing with. And make us feel less anxious and stressed in our caring role.

Take a look at our Mobilise Library where most of our practical, financial, and emotional guides live. Most of which are co-produced with carers who have shared their top tips and wisdom.

4. Teach or learn from anywhere

The flexibility online learning provides enables us to study – or teach – from anywhere in the world. So we can study from home, or while we’re staying with the person we care for. If we have access issues that prevent us from getting to classes in person, learning online can open up a world of possibilities.

5. Save money

Unlike in-person education, online education tends to be more affordable. There’s also often a wide range of payment options that let us pay in installments or per class. Especially at Local Authority Adult Education facilities. This allows for better budget management – something of particular importance to us if we are on a fixed income.

We will often spend less taking an online course, but the results can be the same or even better than more expensive in-person options.

6. Design the learning experience we want

Flexibility can help us to set our own study pace and level of ability. New to learning a language or want to refresh your skills? There are classes available at all levels.

We will often have a one-on-one tutor. This allows for greater interaction and more feedback between us and our tutor.

Some final thoughts

These are only a few reasons to choose an online learning option, and many people now prefer it to a traditional classroom experience. When considering an online course, it’s good to think about our caring situation.

This includes fitting learning alongside our caring work responsibilities before we decide if it meets our needs and goals. While this alternative to traditional education is not for everyone, it's a very convenient option with virtually endless options.

So remember, be brave, your caring experience means you can do anything you put your mind to!

Where can I find a course?

Here are a few companies and institutions that offer thousands of different courses to give a go. With some offering free trials, and others having monthly subscriptions from £9.99 up to £49.99 per month. Why not pop the kettle on, have a browse, and be inspired?

Udemy logo

1. Udemy

Udemy is a great way for us to learn things we never thought we could get to. From web development certifications to building artificial neural networks with machine learning.

With courses starting from £13.99, and there are over 213,000 online video courses to choose from with more added each month.

FutureLearn logo

2. FutureLearn

If we've ever considered the Open University, then we might also be drawn to FutureLearn.

Jointly owned by Open University, they offer online courses and degrees from top universities across the globe. Including King's College in the UK as well as John Hopkins University in America.

Ranging from medicine to environmental science and much more. We can test drive the course with their free seven-day trial period and if we are ready to commit, there will be a £36 monthly subscription option.

Uptime logo

3. Uptime App

If we’re super tight on time and light-touch learning is something we're looking for, consider the Uptime App. Available on both Apple and Android devices.

They offer super-quick five-minute knowledge hacks to dive into, extracted from books, documentaries, and courses, so we can just absorb the main bits.

If we're enjoying it, we can also test out their three-day trial period and then have the option to choose a £9.99 monthly subscription.

MasterClass logo

4. MasterClass

MasterClass sits on the higher end of the price spectrum. This is perfect for those of us who are fully dedicated to learning something particular.

And the fun part is we may recognise some of the faces running these courses.

From cooking with British Chef Gordon Ramsay, to music with American artist Alicia Keys. Or space exploration with Astrophysicists Neil deGrasse Tyson. With online video courses starting from £14 a month.

Coursera logo

5. Coursera

Coursera is also another great online course provider, working with well-known partners such as Amazon Web Services, Google and Meta. If we're up for the challenge to learn a new skill from large tech companies then Coursesa is a good option.

We can get access to unlimited 3,000+ courses, guided projects, and earn a professional certificate with Coursera plus for a monthly subscription of $59. Coursera is on the pricier end of the spectrum but we can cancel at any time and is much more affordable than an in-person course.

Virtual Village Hall logo

6. The Virtual Village

Carers in the Mobilise community have also been vocal about the courses they enjoy online. Particularly, the Virtual Village which offers a range of fun online activity classes spanning from sewing to zumba.

We can also take a look at Laughter Yoga sessions with Tess Sanderson which carers have been enjoying. And better yet, it's free through Facebook!

Finally, we can also check our local authority for which learning options they offer. Many councils have Adult Education centres and local colleges. If you are from Tower Hamlets, do check out their Carers Academy. They offer a range of training on technical skills, first aid, and condition-specific diagnoses.

7. Courses offered by our local carers service

Finally, we can also check our local authority for which learning options they offer. Many councils have Adult Education centers and local colleges. If you are from Tower Hamlets, do check out their Carers Academy. They offer a range of training on technical skills, first aid, and condition-specific diagnoses.

Five educational YouTube channels to watch

YouTube is a great, free platform for us to learn something new. There are many YouTube channels that focus on education and learning - some of which we can pop on in the background and absorb.

Here are a few popular ones:

  1. CrashCourse - Provides educational videos on a variety of subjects, including history, science, literature, and philosophy.

  2. TED-Ed - Offers animated educational videos on a variety of subjects, created by educators and animators.

  3. Khan Academy - Offers a wide range of educational videos on subjects such as math, science, and history.

  4. Skillshare - Offers short videos on a variety of subjects, including design, photography, writing, technology, and more.

  5. Kurzgesagt (In a Nutshell) - Offers vibrant animated educational videos on all things science and history.

Remember, learning doesn't always have to be 'formal'. We can also search for more 'informal' videos if we'd like to learn DIY, how to garden, or how to cook something new. Here's to lifelong learning! So which one of these will you give a go?

About the author

Tony Collins-Moore is manager for education, training, peer support and volunteer management at Carers Centre Tower Hamlets.

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1 Comment

Albert Dexter
Albert Dexter
Feb 27

The flexibility and accessibility of online courses have been a game-changer in balancing caregiving responsibilities with personal growth and development. Not only does online learning provide a convenient avenue for acquiring new skills and knowledge, but it also offers a much-needed respite from the demands of caregiving. I highly recommend checking out for anyone in a similar situation. Their user-friendly platform and diverse range of courses cater perfectly to the needs of busy carers like us. Whether it's honing existing skills or exploring new career opportunities, Skillroads provides the tools and resources necessary to thrive in both our caregiving roles and personal aspirations.

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