As discussed in last weeks Click, today and next week we will be looking at the resources available to all groups of people in Torbay when it comes to computer tuition, either for people who have never used a PC before or those who want a refresher course. As you probably know, learning the basics of computing can dramatically extend your career prospects as knowledge of computer systems is one of the most sought after qualities employers look for nowadays and the good news is that it doesn’t cost as much as one might think.

The first education centre we will look at is South Devon College, Torquay, the reason being as this is the biggest centre of its type in the whole of Torbay. The advantages offered by a College such as this is that there are two distinctly different ways of learning; Practical Lectures and Open Learning. In terms of the facilities offered, the college has a wide range of computing resources available. For example, all students have access to the Internet as well as Industry standard applications; Word, Excel and Sage Line 50 etc., selected machines also boast web cams, scanners and digital cameras.
The college has a reputation for catering for the disabled; all upper floors have lift access for those in wheelchairs and several machines have devices to allow the visually impaired to use them.

The first mentioned method of learning is pretty much self explanatory, you have set lesson times and turn up to be tutored and, unless the lesson is completely theory based, you have complete use of a computer for the duration. Such lessons are usually around 3 hours a week for part timers and at the end of the course you attain a certificate of completion which can conform to a standard such as CLAIT, NFCE or IBT depending on the course selected. All ages of people are welcome on any of these courses and the subject areas available cover all aspects of basic computing such as Word Processing, Internet and Spreadsheets. One of the most popular classes for older learners is on a Saturday morning, 9:30-12:30, this course was formed by a group of enthusiasts who wanted to learn the very basics of computing and they convinced the college that it was a good idea to run a regular taught practical sessions for them so that an experienced computer teacher was always on hand to offer advice and solutions to any problems.

The second learning style I mentioned, Open Learning is a very different approach. The rooms on the main computer block at South Devon College are very rarely closed and so it is possible to register with the college so that when you have a couple of free hours you simply turn up and work through the syllabus at your own pace. Again, all ages and backgrounds of people are welcome on these courses, and the subject area covers everything covered in the basic practical classes, as well as more detailed syllabuses such as web-design, business technology etc.

The good news for many people is that due to a large amount of government support available for those who are willing to learn at any age or in any career, subsidised or even free tuition may be available for certain people, such as the unemployed or those in a low wage bracket. Please ask for details from either the college or a local employment centre and for those who don’t qualify, the total unsubsidised cost of any of the courses detailed above will be unlikely to be over around £200, including the examination fees.

Obviously, this article is only designed to be a guide of what is available, for further details of specific courses including times and costs, you can contact the computer learning centre at South Devon College on 01803 406459.

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