When Alison McLachlan began learning online during lockdown, she had no idea she’d be applying her new skills so quickly at work. She signed up for an Open University (OU) microcredential short course via the OU’s social learning platform, FutureLearn, while on furlough, but was back at work before she knew it, juggling her career and her course.
It took a lot of commitment, but Alison says it was worth every minute as she’s now using her new-found skills and knowledge every day in her role.
As a Community Learning Coordinator at the Glasgow Science Centre (GSC), Alison’s job is based around developing courses for adult learners. After signing up for the 12-week post-graduate level course in Online Teaching: Creating Courses for Adult Learners, Alison soon found herself adapting GSC’s face-to-face courses for pandemic-friendly online learning – and the microcredential helped her greatly.
“The microcredential was very closely linked to the work I was doing on adapting and developing adult learner courses,” she said. “This meant I was able to use my work development plans as the basis of some of my coursework. But it also meant that the course learning heavily influenced my development plans – and it still influences my work every day!”
‘The best thing about the course was its usability’
Alison says that the relevance of the course to her everyday work was a major highlight for her.
“The best thing about the course was definitely its usability,” she said.
“This is something that I can – and have – put on my CV to help with career progression, and which has been excellent in terms of my day-to-day workplace contribution. It has very much informed my practice and there’s been a marked transfer of skills between my learning and my working.
“The course was very good and was hugely beneficial. It was hard work – 13 hours a week, for 12 weeks – but it really was worth it.”
‘I’d love to do another microcredential or a Master’s degree!’
Alison already had two undergraduate degrees – one in Community Education from a brick university and another Open Degree from The Open University – but has always fancied post-graduate learning.
When she saw an opportunity to apply for funding from a Scottish Government scheme for a microcredential during lockdown 1.0, she jumped at the chance.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to learn at post-graduate level, but it was also incredibly relevant to my work,” she said. “So my colleague and I applied for the funding and both received funded places. Once we started, it turned out that a lot of community partners I know were doing the course. It was great to study with like-minded professionals – it was a highlight of my learning experience.
“I really enjoyed the microcredential. Whenever I’m doing OU study and am in the thick of an assignment, I ask people to remind me of this moment before I sign up again. It’s hard work. But the pain is short-lived and before I know it, I’ve signed up for more study!
“So when my contract with the Glasgow Science Centre finishes I would love to do another microcredential or potentially a Master’s degree depending on my work commitments at the time.”
‘The standard and quality were excellent’
She says she would recommend the OU’s high-quality microcredentials to anyone – and in fact, she already has.
“I’d definitely recommend microcredentials – in fact I have sent information to my colleagues about them,” she said. “They can be a great way of levelling up at work.”
“The standard and quality of the course were excellent. The proof of that is that I use the skills I learnt daily and refer back to my study notes often.
“The advice I’d give to anyone thinking of doing a microcredential would be to clear your plate a bit and give the right amount of time to the course. Also make sure you study something that you’re interested in – that is key!”
- Microcredentials are career-focused courses created by world-class OU academics and hosted on our co-owned FutureLearn platform.
- Each course is 10 to 12 weeks and ideal for anyone looking to quickly upskill and stay on top of in-demand subject areas from cyber security to agile leadership.
- Choose from more than 20 OU microcredentials and find the right course for you.