The Open University (OU) in Wales is encouraging people to follow one of its online courses whilst being asked to stay at home during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The OU has seen a spike in visitors to its free online learning platform OpenLearn to access its health, wellbeing and educational content in a time of huge societal need.
The site usually sees an average of 835,000 unique visitors per month. In March 2020, this shot up to 1.77 million and is at 1.64 million for April.
Meanwhile, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Welsh Government has compiled e-learning resources for furloughed workers to improve their knowledge and skills, support their mental wellbeing and help them to prepare for the future. The package of support includes links to OpenLearn courses.
The OU in Wales is also working with the Welsh Government supporting post-16 education for schools and colleges while they are closed. They have also been supporting teachers at Cardiff Council and Tenovus Cancer Care to access free online learning.
As well as free online courses, OpenLearn includes articles, video content and learning activities for families.
Much of the content has been developed in Wales. OpenLearn features a section of content made in Wales, of a Welsh interest, or available in Welsh.
This includes courses in every-day English and maths skills, Supporting children’s development and Rural entrepreneurship in Wales.
Director of the OU in Wales, Louise Casella said:
“Staying at home for this extended period can be a challenging time for many of us, but it also gives us a chance to learn something new. Online learning with the OU can help us improve our job prospects, gain some new skills, as well as give our well-being a boost.”
“Some of us may be looking to give our children something new to learn, others could be looking for a new challenge or some inspiration for future study. There’s something there for all of us. Many of the courses on OpenLearn are badged, which means you’ll be able to show evidence of finishing a course following an assessment.
“Several businesses and employers in Wales are looking for cost effective ways to upskill their staff, after having to cancel face-to-face training which has been booked in over the coming months. I’d encourage them to contact us to see what OpenLearn can offer during this challenging time.”
OpenLearn also has dedicated pages on Coronavirus giving information and links to UK government advice and advice from OU academics about the spread of the virus and a wealth of free resources dealing with associated concerns such as mental health issues. Additional content is also being developed for these Coronavirus-specific pages, including video content aimed specifically at the elderly (over 70s) on staying well in the event of needing to self-isolate.