Studying as a senior is now easier and more convenient than ever. As we all know, life expectancy in Australia is continuing to increase. Boys and girls born in 2015 are now expected to live for an average of 80 and 84 years respectively. This means that the numbers of active and interested seniors in the Australian population are growing and that more seniors are continuing in work, taking up new professions and taking advantage of the numerous learning opportunities that Australia’s excellent education system has to offer.

The rhetoric around age and education is changing and Australia is waking up to the fact that an aging population presents as many opportunities for society as it does risks. For those of us who are enjoying busy and fulfilling later years, the flexible approach of online learning offers one of the very best options for study. Education is for all people of all ages and more and more seniors are taking the opportunity to learn new skills and make exciting life changes. We answer the top 4 questions Australian seniors ask us about online learning.

1. I’m over 55 and thought my studying days were over, why should I change my mind?

We live in a society that has traditionally attributed learning opportunities to the young but times are changing and the benefits of learning are not limited to those just starting their career journeys. Studying can open up opportunities you might not previously have thought of:

  • • Studying can help you understand digital communication
  • • Studying can help you find new job opportunities
  • • Studying can put you in line for promotion
  • • Studying can help you move across to a less physical job
  • • Studying can help you meet new people
  • • Studying can open up voluntary or community opportunities
  • • Studying can improve your self confidence

It is tempting, as we age, to see our lives as static but through continuing study we can keep pace with an exciting and changing world. ‘Jobs for life’ no longer really exist and who wants them to anyway, when there are so many interesting opportunities out there?

2. I’m not a computer expert; will I cope with online learning?

The great thing about online learning is that you’ll be able to take your time with tasks. You’ll need to use a computer to study and communicate but you won’t be sitting in a classroom feeling silly because everybody else is ahead of you. You’ll be able to take time to learn to use your computer as a tool for learning and you’ll be gaining two sets of skills for the price of one. When you enrol for an online course, you’ll work through a Learning Management System such as MyUpskilled, which makes managing your study materials, online training sessions, reading materials and assessments easy. You’ll have access to up to the minute resources including videos and discussion boards and you’ll find that, once you start chatting on study forums, there are lots of people out there who have experiences similar to yours and are willing to help. If you are already a confident digital communicator you will enjoy sharing your skills with other people, learning together is a surprisingly big part of online study.

3. I have a smaller budget than I used to, can I afford online learning?

Like most good things in life, online learning does have cost implications, but these should always be balanced against the possibilities that study will open up for you. You might even find yourself earning more money once you’ve finished your course. Don’t let concerns about funding put you off choosing a course; most Registered Training Organisations have a range of payment plans and all Australian citizens are entitled to apply for the government subsidies that exist for some courses, in some states. You might also find that your employer is willing to help fund your study and if your course is relevant to your current job, it will be tax deductible. Why give the taxman your money when you can use it to give yourself a boost?

4. I haven’t studied for a long time, which online courses might suit me?

If you haven’t considered education for a long time, the range of online courses available might pleasantly surprise you. Choosing a course is simple if you are looking to further your existing work skills but, even if this isn’t the case, once you have browsed through the possibilities you will probably have a few options in mind. Whatever you do, don’t let indecision put you off starting a course. Asking yourself the questions below might help you to choose:

  • Do I want to choose a course that will lead to employment changes?
  • What are my existing interests?
  • Which courses sparked my imagination?
  • Would I like to start with a shorter course to test the online learning experience?
  • Do I have existing expertise that might be useful for study?
  • What do I wish I could do better?
  • Which course would make me most proud when I complete it?

Whether you fancy a short course in social media, a Certificate level course in Accounting or a Bachelor Degree in Natural Therapies. There is an online course out there that will get you interested and make you think about your future. The Australian population is aging, let’s grasp the opportunities this fact presents and learn ourselves into a stimulating and exhilarating senior future.

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