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SOCIAL DISTANCING TIPS: 8 Online Courses You Can Take This Month

By Toby Buckley

The age of ‘social distancing’ is upon us and while some people have been able to take their work home to continue from the safety of their couch, many more have been sent home on paid or unpaid leave (or, in many unfortunate cases, made redundant) with nothing to do but sit indoors and worry about money, vulnerable loved ones and the state of the world. It’s far from the best start to a year! 


Keeping our minds active and our hopes up can be a challenge in these circumstances, but there are things we can do to stay occupied and resist the urge to break quarantine. There are heaps of online courses available through the Open University, FutureLearn and other providers – some free and some paid – so if you were thinking of taking a deep dive into a completely new subject, improving the maths skills you haven’t used since GCSEs or expanding your knowledge of world history, now is the time. 


For eager learners, we’ve put together a list of interesting courses you may like to try this month. 



1. Diploma in Graphic Design

from Course Gate


Price: £175 Study Method: Online (Price includes exam and access to tutor.) Content Access: Lifelong Accreditation: CPD


Whether you’re interested in taking your first steps into graphic design or are already working in the field, a Diploma in Graphic Design will stand to you. This course is designed to give you everything you need to break into the profession: The fundamentals of graphic design, Adobe Photoshop, Illustration and InDesign basics, graphics, games and animation. If you run your own business and want to improve the quality of your marketing material, this course is perfect for you. 


Note: Reed.co.uk often offer good offers and discounts on their courses, so if £175 is a little steep for you, shop around on their website and you may find something as cheap as £10. 


2. Art and Life in Ancient Egypt 

from The Open University


Price: Free Study Method: Online Content Access: Lifelong Accreditation: OU Statement of Participation 


This course explores the belief systems and social structures of Ancient Egypt through paintings. It was designed in collaboration with The British Museum and takes 30 hours to complete. It keeps learners engaged and informed by focusing on eleven paintings from the tomb-chapel of King Amenhotep III and combining art analysis with a dose of history. 


3. Visual Perception and the Brain 

from Duke University


Price: Free (Certificate costs $39, but Financial Assistance is available) Study Method: Online (flexible deadlines) Accreditation: Course Certificate (shareable to LinkedIn) 


Using perception as a guide, this course will introduce learners to the problems faced by vision. You’ll learn about what visual perception can tell us about how the brain works, how the visual system generates what we see and what the central problem for vision is. Contributions from philosophy, neuroscience, psychology and the history of vision science will all be explored. 



4. Discovering Music: The Blues 

from The Open University


Price: Free Study Method: Online Content Access: Lifelong Accreditation: OU Statement of Participation 


If you love music, this could be the course for you. It explores the historical context of the Blues genre and provides an overview of Blues music, covering the nature of typical Blues lyrics in just 6 hours. You don’t need any musical knowledge prior to signing up to the course, but will come away with an understanding of the 12-bar Blues structure and the Blues scale. 


5. Start Writing Fiction 

from The Open University


Price: Free (£42 upgrade) Study Method: Online Content Access: 10 Weeks (Lifelong access with paid upgrade) Accreditation: Digital certificate with paid upgrade 


Monique Roffey, Louis de Barnières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts and other established writers all talk about how they started writing and how you can to with the help of this online course. It will teach you how to start turning events into plot, get into a writing routine, keep a journal, learn how to develop your ideas, reflect on your own writing and editing and approach research. 


6. The First World War: Trauma and Memory 

from The Open University


Price: Free Study Method: Online Content Access: Lifelong Accreditation: OU Statement of Participation 


This free course explores the First World War’s representations in art and literature and the mental and material damages caused by the war and the long shadow it cast over the 20th century and beyond. The course analyses the traumatic experiences of both soldiers and civilians in wartime, explores the history of PTSD, and is aimed at anyone with an interest in the First World War. 



7. Make Creativity Your Career: Six Exercises to Create a Successful Side Project 

from Andy J. Pizza (Illustrator, Designer & Podcaster) via SkillShare


Price: Premium SkillShare Membership required ($7/month, 2 month free trial available) Study Method: Online (11 video lessons plus class workbook) Content Access: As long as your membership lasts Accreditation: None 


This course is great for those of us who want a creative career but haven’t quite got there yet. It will help you to craft a simple strategy for articulating and achieving your goals. The course focuses on the power of creative side projects to allow you to explore your creativity on your own terms and at your own pace. Learn about creative careers, goals, small steps, marketing and promotion, and progress analysis. 


8. Visions of Protest: Graffiti 

from The Open University


Price: Free Study Method: Online Content Access: Lifelong Accreditation: OU Statement of Participation 


Do you think of graffiti as an art form or an act of needless vandalism? In this free course, you’ll be asked to reflect on the concept of ‘art’ and take a look at the arguments for and against the idea of graffiti as an art form. You’ll also get to explore graffiti as social commentary, communication and protest. For art lovers, this is the perfect 8-hour course. 


Taken any online courses recently? Get in touch and tell us all about them!



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